New Hampshire delegation asks EPA to include biomass power in RFS
New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is speaking out to urge the U.S. EPA to move forward with a proposed rule that would allow renewable electricity made from biomass that is used to fuel vehicles to quality for the Renewable Fuel Standard.
On Oct. 3, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H, and Annie Kuster, D-N.H., sent a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler asking him to resolve any outstanding issues impeding the EPA’s ability to process biomass and waste-to-energy fuel pathways submitted under the RFS program. “Approving a registering biomass-derived electricity from the RFS is important to New Hampshire and consistent with EPA’s approach toward biomass,” they wrote.
The letter states that biomass is an important energy resources in New Hampshire, and is a critical component of the region’s forest-based economy. New Hampshire is currently home to seven biomass power facilities. Despite their ability to contribute to clean energy and rural economic stability, the delegation said these facilities are on the verge of closing due to challenging power markets. “Urgent action is needed to address the obstacles limiting biomass power generation and the forest-based industries it supports,” they wrote.
According to the letter, expanding the RFS program to include power from biomass sources will spurt the growth of the U.S. electric vehicle market and incentivize renewable biomass power generation while simultaneously reducing pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The letter notes that EPA issued its proposed Renewable Enhancement and Growth Support rule in 2016 in an effort to gather additional information about the potential configurations of this new renewable electricity pathway. However, to date, the EPA has failed to finalize the REGS rule or issue an approved renewable fuel pathway for biomass, waste-to-energy and several other fuel sources.
“EPA’s inaction has created a multi-year backlog of applications form power producers seeking registration as RIN producers for biomass-based electricity and discouraged investment in new and innovative technologies that are ready to use this approved pathway,” the New Hampshire delegation wrote. “While we understand the need to carefully review changes to the RFS program, we are concerned that delaying the inclusion of biomass and waste-to-energy electricity producers inadvertently favors certain types of agricultural feedstock and fuel types.”
Within the letter, the delegation urges Wheeler to immediately address all outstanding RIN registration requests and finalize a regulatory structure for biomass and waste-to-energy fuel pathways under the RFS program.
“We are very grateful to Senator Shaheen, Senator Hassan, Representative Kuster and Representative Shea-Porter for urging the EPA to honor its commitment to allow renewable electricity to participate in the RFS program,” said Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of Biomass Power Association. “This is urgently needed by biomass power plants in New Hampshire, where biomass power is a leading source of energy, and across the country. If the EPA processes applications that are pending at the agency, it will help biomass power plants continue to contribute to rural communities.”
“As the nation’s second most forested state, biomass power in New Hampshire just makes sense. It is a local power source that contributes to our economy and provides an important forest tool for our land managers,” said Jasen Stock, executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. “I appreciate the New Hampshire congressional delegation’s attention to this important issue.”