Congressman Walden bid to strengthen biomass use defeated


From Oregon Congressman Greg Walden,

• This week, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is a member, is considering amendments to the Democrat leadership’s national energy tax legislation to raise hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for a new Wall Street-style trading market for carbon.

• Rep. Walden took a red eye flight Sunday night from Oregon to arrive in Washington, D.C. in time for the first meeting on the bill at 1 p.m. on Monday.

• The chairman of the committee and principal architect of the bill, Henry Waxman (D-Hollywood), said he intends to pass the bill out of committee by Memorial Day. That leaves only this week for consideration of amendments on the bill. Members received the 946-page text of the bill just hours before the first meeting on Monday.

• BIOMASS UPDATE: Rep. Walden introduced the first of 20 of his amendments to substantially improve the rushed bill yesterday to allow biomass from federal lands to count as a renewable fuel and receive the same incentives from the federal government as wind, solar, and other renewables. The bill as written excludes biomass from “mature” federal forest land, which includes most federal forests in Oregon.

Without Walden’s amendment, the bill would deal a devastating blow to the biomass industry in Oregon, which offers the potential for new jobs in the forest and the reduction of catastrophic wildfire and the subsequent release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The Walden amendment closely mirrors bipartisan legislation introduced by Walden and Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin on Feb. 25, 2009 (H.R. 1190).

• Rep. Walden’s amendment was voted down 26-32, mostly along party lines.

• The Democrats, after numerous formal inquiries, have yet to offer a scientific explanation for excluding biomass from federal lands as counting as a renewable energy source.

• The Society of American Foresters, the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States with over 14,000 members, announced yesterday that the “exclusion of ‘mature stands’ on federal lands is extremely problematic. … [A] vast majority of federal forests are ‘mature’ according to the application of the term in forestry. Excluding these lands has no basis in science.”

• Tuesday’s session wrapped up just before midnight. The committee is expected to continue holding 14-hour or longer sessions through the end of the week. Walden and his colleagues will continue offering amendments to improve the numerous shortcomings in the legislation.

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