Colville, WA – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) began her “Jobs and Energy Tour” of Eastern Washington with a speech at the Hearth & Home Technologies factory in Colville about the importance of biomass and other renewable energies. She joined other local leaders at the company’s event, “Growing a Cleaner, Greener Economy Utilizing Renewable Densified Biomass,” which showcased the company’s use of pellets as a form of green technology.
“We live in a country with tremendous energy resources – including the greatest resource of all – the ingenuity of the free American mind,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “We should be using those resources to create more energy jobs and achieve energy independence. Biomass, in particular, is a great energy source.”
Biomass is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), wood is the largest biomass resource available today, but other sources like food crops, grassy and woody plants can be used.
A post at Energy Quest explains:
Biomass is matter usually thought of as garbage. Some of it is just stuff lying around — dead trees, tree branches, yard clippings, left-over crops, wood chips (like in the picture to the right), and bark and sawdust from lumber mills. It can even include used tires and livestock manure.
Your trash, paper products that can’t be recycled into other paper products, and other household waste are normally sent to the dump. Your trash contains some types of biomass that can be reused. Recycling biomass for fuel and other uses cuts down on the need for “landfills” to hold garbage.
“In Eastern Washington, we’ve seen how biomass can complement existing forestry infrastructure to create jobs and provide green, affordable energy. Led by innovative companies such as Hearth & Home Technologies, I’m excited that Eastern Washington will continue to take biomass to the next level,” McMorris Rodgers added.
Last year, Rep. McMorris Rodgers signed a letter to Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) encouraging the CEQ to work with other federal agencies – especially the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – in developing a “sensible, consistent, scientifically-based policy that recognizes the carbon-neutrality of biogenic sources.” In response, the EPA recently decided to exclude biomass from its list of regulated energy sources for the next three years.
“While this is encouraging news, we still need a permanent ruling from the EPA,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “Going forward, I will continue advocating for a permanent ruling to keep the biomass industry growing and thriving.”
While promising, the technology is far from perfect.
Ronnie Greene of the Cutting Edge reports:
Worries about the potential health effects have sent ripples through communities where new plants are being built. The industry and its allies in Washington, meanwhile, have managed to delay for three years finalizing a study into the legitimacy of claims that biomass pollution fouls the air and harms health, perhaps even contributing to asthma and heart disease.
Two California plants were slapped with $835,000 in fines by the EPA earlier this year and a biomass plant just north of Eugene, Oregon was fined over $9,800 after it failed part of its initial pollution control test.
The problem is the nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide produced by the plants. Even though the plants are somewhat cleaner than coal-burning facilities, the particulates can cause potential health risks.
Meanwhile, the EPA says it will use the time to fully explore the technology and determine how to go forward.
“The agency intends to use this time to seek further independent scientific analysis of this complex issue” involving carbon dioxide emissions, the EPA said. “Seeking advice of federal partners, states, a diverse group of expert scientists including industry and other stakeholders, and an independent scientific panel, will help to determine how these emissions should be treated under the EPA’s air permitting program.”
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