Climate bill calls for review of biomass definition

By | April 15, 2010
Posted May 13, 2010

The American Power Act, which was rolled out May 12 by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., calls for a review of the definition of renewable biomass and provides for studies into the current and future impacts of biomass combustion and production of biomass-derived gas or liquid fuels.

The review is to be conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, evaluating how sources of biomass contribute to the goals of increasing the nation's energy independence, protecting the environment and reducing global warming, according to the draft of the bill, which reflects closed-door negotiations with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The studies into the impact on food production and the environment from burning biomass or making biofuels will be conducted by the U.S. EPA, USDA and Department of the Interior. Both parties would report their findings to Congress with any recommendations.

The bill also contains the language that appears in the House climate bill passed late last June that would require a scientific evaluation by the NAS of indirect land use effects and the agreement of the U.S. EPA, U.S. DOE and USDA on any ensuing use of indirect land use change effects in regulations. The language would effectively postpone implementation of indirect impacts in the renewable fuels standard for six years.

While the bill lacks a federal renewable electricity standard, it includes expansions of nuclear power and carbon capture sequestration; revenue sharing for states that want to conduct more offshore oil and gas production; and a first-ever cap on greenhouse gas production.

Based on a report from