(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter with Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging the administration to move forward with a proposed rule that would allow renewable electricity made from biomass to qualify for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program if it is used to power electric vehicles. This would level the playing field among competing fuel sources, and enable biomass power plants to generate and sell credits under the RFS program to refiners that must meet national renewable fuel targets. If enacted, the proposed rule would spur the deployment of electric vehicles and provide another source of revenue for New Hampshire’s seven wood-fire power plants.
The delegation wrote, “Biomass is an important energy source for New Hampshire and critical component of our region’s forest-based economy. New Hampshire is home to seven biomass power facilities that support jobs, contribute to the state and local economies and supply renewable power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across New England. Moreover, these biomass power facilities provide a source of revenue for landowners to maintain healthy forests that are vital for wildlife protection and climate change mitigation. Despite their ability to contribute to clean energy and rural economic stability, biomass power facilities in our state are on the verge of closing because of challenging power markets. Urgent action is needed to address the obstacles limiting biomass power generation and the forest-based industries it supports.”
In their letter, the delegation urged the EPA to finalize a regulatory structure that expands the RFS to allow for biomass and waste-to-energy fuel pathways, and to act on its backlog of applications from biomass power producers seeking to register for the RFS program. The delegation concluded, “Expanding the RFS program to include biomass-derived electricity would help the U.S. achieve its clean energy goals and provide a much-needed boost to the biomass industry in New Hampshire.”
“We are very grateful to Senator Shaheen, Senator Hassan, Representative Kuster and Representative Shea-Porter for urging the EPA to honor its commitment to allow renewable electricity to participate in the RFS program,” said Bob Cleaves, President and CEO of Biomass Power Association. “This is urgently needed by biomass power plants in New Hampshire, where biomass power is a leading source of energy, and across the country. If the EPA processes applications that are pending at the agency, it will help biomass power plants continue to contribute to rural communities.”
“As the nation’s second most forested state, biomass power in New Hampshire just makes sense. It is a local power source that contributes to our economy and provides an important forest tool for our land managers,” said Jasen Stock, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. “I appreciate the New Hampshire congressional delegation’s attention to this important issue.”
Biomass is an important baseload energy source for New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen has long advocated for America’s forests and initiatives that support the biomass industry. In January, Shaheen introduced legislation that would provide incentives for private forest owners to improve and maintain sustainable forest management and for non-residential building owners to use less energy-intensive products, such as wood, as building materials. And in April, Senator Shaheen introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) that supports the adoption of wood energy systems and creates new markets for low-grade, low-value wood.
Sarah Q. Weinstein
Senator Jeanne Shaheen