Commissioner Goldmark’s biomass initiative becomes law on Earth Day
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Commissioner Goldmark’s biomass initiative becomes law on Earth Day 
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                                                                                                         
April 22, 2009
 
Commissioner Goldmark’s biomass initiative becomes law on Earth Day
Gov. Gregoire signs bill to authorize creation of biomass projects for green jobs and renewable energy

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed House Bill 2165 to help the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) create energy from wood waste in our state’s forests.
 
“It is fitting that Washington State takes this step forward to create clean, renewable energy and green jobs on Earth Day,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Turning wood waste into electricity or liquid fuels will create both energy and jobs while improving the health of our forests.”

The bill, which was request legislation from Commissioner Goldmark, authorizes two biomass demonstration projects, one on the east-side and one on the west-side of the state.

“These projects have the potential of attracting new technologies, and demonstrate the viability of creating renewable energy from our forest biomass,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “This bill is about green jobs, forest health and renewable fuels for a 21st Century economy.”

Washington is home to many overstocked forests that can create fire danger and make forests susceptible to pests. Often, there is also wood waste from timber harvests that goes unused. The projects that this bill authorizes will use existing technology to convert those excess materials to create clean, renewable energy in the form electricity or liquid biofuels.

“As a firefighter, I’m excited about the potential of these pilot programs to help fireproof our forest lands and keep them healthy,” said Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, the bill’s prime sponsor in the House. “We may be on the verge of creating a whole new industry that will both provide jobs and protect our natural resources.”

Sen. Jim Hargrove was the prime sponsor in the Senate for the bill, which enjoyed unanimous, bipartisan support in both chambers.

“We applaud Commissioner Goldmark for his leadership in encouraging public-private demonstration projects that will utilize forest biomass to generate carbon-neutral renewable energy, create green jobs and improve forest health,” said Mark Doumit, executive director for the Washington Forest Protection Association.

Members of the conservation community have joined with the timber industry in support of this common sense legislation that will use technology to create a greener and more prosperous Washington.

“This legislation is good for nature and good for people. These pilot projects should encourage a new biomass-to-energy industry that creates jobs, while taking steps to restore our east-side forests to health,” said Karen Anderson, Washington’s state director for The Nature Conservancy.

DNR will partner with private industry that has the technology to convert biomass into energy. This bill incurs no cost to taxpayers; in fact, this effort will save money on fire prevention and suppression and create jobs in both the near and long term.

Managing your public resources
DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned lands:

  • 2.9 million acres of trust lands, including forest, range, agricultural land, and commercial properties that earn revenue to build public schools, universities, prisons, and other state institutions, and help fund Westside county services.
  • 2.6 million acres of ‘aquatic’ lands: the bedlands under Puget Sound and the coast, many beaches, and all navigable natural lakes and rivers.
  • 130,000 acres of natural areas that protect rare and threatened species as well as high-quality examples of the native ecosystems and landscapes of Washington.

Media Contact: Aaron Toso, Director of Communications & Outreach, 360-902-1023 aaron.toso@dnr.wa.gov

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