The Biomass Power Association anticipates many opportunities for pro-biomass policy during the next two years, supported by the policy papers distributed by the Biden campaign and transition team.
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It has been an eventful few months since our last Biomass Magazine column, to say the least. Our country has a new administration, led by President Joe Biden, along with a Democratic House and Senate. We anticipate many opportunities for pro-biomass policy during the next two years, supported by the policy papers distributed by the Biden campaign and transition team. Below, we outline a few policy priorities for the biomass industry, and how we hope to engage with the incoming administration and Congress on these issues.
Electricity in the RFS. First and foremost, the Biomass Power Association, along with the RFS Power Coalition, seeks immediate inclusion of electricity generated from Renewable Fuel Standard-approved feedstocks in the RFS. We will be pursuing a settlement to our litigation challenging the U.S. EPA’s lack of electricity in its 2019 renewable volume obligation. The Biden administration has placed a strong emphasis on providing more widespread access to electric transportation, as well as identifying administrative actions that can be undertaken without congressional acts. We believe that including electricity in the RFS fits squarely into both of these categories. Electric vehicles require electricity from nonfossil sources to achieve their full carbon savings potential, and the Biden administration has the authority to direct the EPA to begin processing applications from electricity producers. Add to that the litigation pending in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and numerous bills awaiting introduction in Congress, and there is plenty of motivation for the Biden administration to press forward in implementing eRINs right away.
Biomass as a forest fire reduction tool. The Biden administration has named Tom Vilsack as its nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His name might sound familiar because he was the agriculture secretary during the Obama administration. With his previous experience, Vilsack is well aware of the benefits of supporting wood utilization, including biomass power, as a tool to manage forests and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Under his leadership, Biomass Power Association signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Forest Service on support for wood energy. The Biden transition team’s Climate 21 Project memo outlining its policy priorities also explicitly spells out support for increased use of bioenergy, stating: “USDA has enormous and underappreciated discretionary financial resources and agency expertise that enable the agency to… promote sustainable bioenergy, wood products and other biobased materials.”
Carbon capture proliferation: With a very small Senate majority margin, it’s unlikely that we will see bold climate bills along the lines of the Green New Deal being proposed. However, carbon capture, utilization and storage is one area of significant agreement between Republicans and Democrats. We expect to see legislation supported by the Biden administration that channels funding into carbon capture research and development, as well as pilot projects for adapting CCUS to various energy technologies.
Finally, on an unrelated note, I’d like to mention something BPA is working on that could help all biomass power producers. If you, like many of our members, have seen your insurance premiums raised significantly in recent years, we are working on a way for you to obtain access to a more affordable policy. If you have any questions, please reach out to me.