EPA biomass decision important to Oregon

Natural Resource Report News Note: The Oregonian Editorial Board gave an insightful editorial on Oregon biomass.  Below is an excerpt.

“A promising fraction of Oregon’s energy now comes from burning wood debris: slash piles on the forest floor from logging or thinning, naturally fallen and decaying trees within uncut forests, wood shavings and bark and trimmings from mill operations. The wood debris, called biomass, produces heat for buildings or electricity for lights and toasters. Or none of the above.

That depends upon a decision now before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which considers regulating the carbon dioxide released from burning biomass, a renewable energy source, just as it does coal. To do so would be a crushing blow to a fragile sector at a time we need it most.

Oregon’s prolific forests — wet ones on the west side of the Cascades, drier ones on the eastern slopes — are loaded with biomass. Getting to this fuel can be tricky. It requires mechanical bundling and hauling by truck to a site for burning, adding to the cost of what might be considered “free” fuel. Sometimes the debris undergoes the intermediate step of grinding and compressing into fuel pellets before burning.

Yet Oregon has 40 facilities that burn biomass for heating and drying, and 14 more that also generate electricity for uploading to the grid. Burns High School, in Harney County, is among a handful burning wood pellets in a boiler for heat. The Eugene Water and Electric Board has agreed to buy biomass-generated power from a new Seneca wood-products facility in northwest Eugene.”

Continue reading Biomass editorial

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