FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2009
Commissioner Goldmark launches biomass initiative
Effort would create jobs, healthier forests, and renewable energy
OLYMPIA – Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark today launched an effort to create jobs, renewable energy, and healthier forests by utilizing woody biomass in our state’s forests.
“Through this biomass initiative, DNR has an opportunity to be part of the climate change solution at the same time that we are creating jobs and improving forest health,” said Commissioner Goldmark. “This effort will help bring emerging technologies to the marketplace and help to establish another positive and sustainable use of our public’s natural resources.”
A bill, introduced today in both the House and the Senate, would authorize the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create two pilot programs—one customized to eastern Washington and one for western Washington—to demonstrate the use of existing biomass conversion technology in the field. DNR would be required to report back to the legislature in 2010.
“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we will face, and all of us need to work together to address it,” said Governor Chris Gregoire. “By utilizing biomass from state forests, we can create renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint. I applaud Commissioner Goldmark for his leadership in the fight against a changing climate.”
Currently there often is wood waste from timber harvests that goes unused; there is also an abundance of overstocked forests that create a fire danger, especially in eastern Washington. This concept would use existing technology to convert those excess materials to create clean, renewable energy in the form electricity or liquid biofuels.
“Utilizing woody biomass from overstocked state forests will help improve forest health, reduce the risk of forest fires, and provide renewable energy options on state lands,” said Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, the bill’s prime sponsor in the House.
This bill incurs no cost to taxpayers; DNR will partner with private industry that has the technology to convert biomass into energy. In fact, this effort will save money on fire prevention and suppression and create jobs in both the near and long term.
“By realizing the potential of biomass for renewable energy, we will be creating a new economic opportunity for the timber industry and new jobs in rural parts of the state,” said Sen. Jim Hargrove, the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate.
Legislative hearings scheduled
The companion bills, House Bill 2165 and Senate Bill 5979 each are scheduled for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, February 16.
Sustainability is a priority
When Commissioner Goldmark took office, he laid out three principles that will guide decisions made at DNR under his leadership. Those include: sustainably manage our natural resources, conduct our work in the public’s interest with the public’s knowledge; and ensure that sound and credible science guides all of our actions.
Managing State Trust Lands
The state Department of Natural Resources manages 2.9 million acres of trust lands, providing revenue for specific beneficiaries and many benefits for the public. Revenue from state trust lands helps fund construction of public schools statewide and supports state universities, prisons, and other institutions, along with services in many counties.
Goldmark is the state’s 13th Commissioner of Public Lands and the first from Eastern Washington.
Media Contact: Aaron Toso, Communications & Outreach Director, (360) 902-1023, firstname.lastname@example.org
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