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 Congressman Walden Press Release July 29, 2005

Walden Backs Key Biomass Provisions in Energy Act Benefiting Forests, Environment

Incentives for the production of power using woody biomass included in the comprehensive Energy Policy Act approved by the House 

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved legislation that will improve the health of our nation's forests while encouraging the development of renewable energy using woody biomass debris found on our forest floors that could become fuel for catastrophic wildfire.  Representative Greg Walden (R-OR), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and his colleagues passed the bipartisan Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included key provisions to encourage the development of woody debris as an alternative source of energy.

"The Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) is making great strides in improving the health of our national forestlands through fuels reduction efforts to prevent catastrophic wildfire," said Walden, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, co-author of HFRA, and vice chair of the bipartisan House Renewable Energy Caucus.  "However, as it stands now, there are still millions of tons of debris found on the floors of our forestlands.  This woody material, if not put to productive use, simply creates a tinderbox in our forests or is piled up in landfills.  The continued coordination between the Congress and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and the Interior in finding innovative and cost-effective ways to use biomass will help advance efforts in both hazardous fuels reduction and the development of alternative fuel sources."

The Energy Act contained financial incentives for innovative companies looking to utilize woody biomass for power production, including a possible federal investment of up to $500,000 in new facilities built to generate biomass energy. Additionally, the legislation authorizes an investment of $20 for every green ton of biomass delivered. 

The legislation also included the extension of production tax credits for companies developing renewable, alternative sources of energy, including biomass.

"Each of these provisions will provide incentives for companies that are leading the way in alternative energy production, which is beneficial for the environment and the health of our forests, but also for America's long-term energy policy," added Walden.

In May, Walden held a hearing in the forestry subcommittee he chairs to hear testimony from the Government Accountability Office on the current status of biomass utilization, including options for commercial and energy uses. 

The GAO report states that "Using woody biomass in these or other ways can have several beneficial side effects, including stimulating local economies and potentially facilitating fuels reduction efforts by creating a demand for thinned material." 

The Energy Policy Act, which was approved by the Senate today, will now head to President Bush for his signature.

Congressman Walden represents the Second District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip in the House leadership structure and a member of the Committee on Energy & Commerce and the Committee on Resources, for which he serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.

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