House Appropriations and Senate Energy Bills Address Biomass

Earlier this month, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee finalized a fiscal year 2018 (FY18) spending bill that includes a provision on biomass for FY18 and “each fiscal year thereafter.”  Among other things, the bill calls on all federal agencies to establish policies to reflect the “carbon-neutrality” of biomass and “recognize biomass as a renewable energy source.”  The biomass language, found in Sec. 428 (pg. 133), mirrors the language included in the FY17 omnibus bill that Congress passed in May.  The Senate Interior Appropriations bill is expected to be marked up in September, so there is still a long way to go before this provision is incorporated into final FY18 appropriations legislation. 

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee also recently released a draft comprehensive energy bill (S. 1460) that includes several provisions that address biomass and energy.  S. 1460 is substantially similar to the one approved by the Senate in April 2016, which died in caucus with the House.  The bill incorporates biomass, including wood pellets, into the definition for “energy-efficient materials.”  The term “renewable energy” also includes biomass, as does the term “advanced energy technology.”  The inclusion of biomass in these definitions indicates that provisions favoring renewable energy, energy-efficient materials, and advanced energy technologies would apply to woody biomass.  The bill also includes a provision calling for a net-negative carbon dioxide emissions project that would employ a technology for thermochemical co-conversion of coal and biomass fuels.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly agreed to fast-track the bill given its similarity to the one that passed in 2016 and is intending to bring it directly to the Senate floor for a vote.  CPA is reviewing the bill within the context of the association’s biomass policy to better understand any potential implications for the composite wood industry. See Appropriations Bill and S.1460.  More Info:  Jackson Morrill   


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