FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2010
Forest Biomass Supply Agreements Bill Becomes Law
Governor’s signature advances Commissioner Goldmark’s Forest Biomass Initiative
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) today announces that Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark’s executive request legislation regarding forest biomass was signed into law this afternoon by Governor Chris Gregoire. The Forest Biomass Supply Agreements Bill (2SHB 2481) received almost unanimous support from the Legislature.
“By signing this bill, Governor Gregoire is helping to encourage rural economic development and a new green industry on state forest lands,” said Goldmark. “I’d like to thank the Legislature, and particularly Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) and Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), for helping to ensure this important piece of legislation made it through in a short session.”
The Forest Biomass Supply Agreements Bill (2SHB 2481) will allow DNR to enter into long-term biomass supply agreements with the emerging biomass energy economy. The ability to secure reliable and predictably priced biomass feedstock supply removes a major obstacle to maximizing the benefits of the emerging biomass energy economy.
“Today’s action opens the door to exciting opportunities for growth and stability in our timber industry,” said Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim). “The next wave of energy jobs may very well be in our rural timber communities, and long-term contracts are a crucial step.”
The building of a green industry and new revenue source from state forested lands will also help to sustain the infrastructure of the timber industry and private forest land owners.
“A lot of folks on the Peninsula are still recovering from the last recession and this is a great opportunity to get green jobs growing in the places that need them most,” said Sen. Hargrove (D-Hoquiam). “Expanding our green energy biomass projects will help our tree farmers and working families in timber-dependent rural areas.”
The bill has no cost to the State’s General Fund and will potentially help to generate revenues from state managed forestland. In addition to rural jobs and green energy, a viable forest biomass industry in Washington will help to improve forest health by removing dead and dying material from overstocked forests. Improved forest health could result in avoiding fire suppression costs by reducing the risk of explosive wildfires.
Forest Biomass Initiative
In 2009, HB 2165 was enacted into law authorizing DNR to implement forest biomass energy pilot projects in eastern and western Washington.
Removing forest biomass feedstock in ecologically sustainable ways to produce energy (liquid fuels or heat and electricity) can:
- Provide income for forest landowners while improving forest health;
- Create rural jobs;
- Reduce wildfires and greenhouse gas emissions; and
- Aid in the production of renewable energy.
In January, DNR announced four forest biomass pilot projects for Phase 1 of the program. For more information on the Forest Biomass Initiative and the pilot projects, visit: http://bit.ly/aqFeco .
DNR will continue to work with pilot projects to identify funding and helping them work through the permitting processes.
Media Contact: Aaron Toso, Director of Communications & Outreach, 360-902-1023, and firstname.lastname@example.org
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