NortherN Forest Biomass ENergy Action Plan

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Northern ForestBiomass EnergyAction Plan

EndorsementsThe following organizations and agencies endorse the Northern Forest Biomass EnergyAction Plan and participated in its development:Adirondack CouncilNorthern Forest AllianceAdirondack North Country AssociationNorthern Forest Center*Adirondack Park AgencyPublic Service of New HampshireAllenby Associates, LLCR. J.Turner CompanyAmerican ForestsRainforest AllianceAppalachian Mountain ClubSociety for the Protection of NewHampshire ForestsBiomass Energy Resource Center*Carsey Institute*Center for Rural Partnerships, PlymouthState UniversityClean Energy GroupCrotched Mountain FoundationForest GuildKatahdin Energy WorksState University of New York, Collegeof Environmental Science and ForestryThe Irland GroupThreshold to Maine Resource Conservationand Development CouncilUniversity of Maine, Center for Research onSustainable ForestsLyme TimberUniversity of Maine, Forest BioProductsResearch InitiativeMAGICVermont Family ForestsMaine Rural PartnersVermont Land TrustMount Washington Valley Economic CouncilVermont Natural Resources CouncilNational Wildlife FederationVermont Public Interest Research GroupNatural Resources Council of MaineVermont Sustainable Jobs FundNatural Resources Defense CouncilVermont Woodlands AssociationNatural Resources of Canada, CommunityEnergy Planning GroupWagner Forest ManagementNew Energy CapitalYellow Wood AssociatesNew England Wood Pellet, LLCWashington Electric CooperativeNew York State Forester, Robert K. DaviesNorth Country Resource Conservation andDevelopment Area, New Hampshire*The Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Carsey Institute, and the Northern Forest Centerconvened the Northern Forest Biomass Energy Initiative and endorse its recommendations. Copyright 2007 Biomass Energy Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Northern ForestRegionThe four-state Northern Forest region (including Maine, NewHampshire, Vermont, and New York) contains more than 26 millionacres of forestland that has great value—both locally and globally—as asource of wood for pulp and papermaking, wood products manufacturing, building heating, electricity generation, wood-pellet production,liquid fuels, and bio-based chemicals and other products.The region’s forest is also a valuable ecological resource providingessential wildlife habitat, plant diversity, clean air, and clean water forthe Northeast and beyond. The Northern Forest provides abundant anddiverse recreational opportunities for residents and visitors; supportsthe watershed for major rivers, lakes, and drinking water supplies; andoffers a sense of place and connection to nature for those who love theoutdoors.This large forest ecosystem has the potentialto continue to be thecornerstone of widespread and long-termeconomic developmentand revitalization in theregion.The Northern Forest is the largest contiguous forested region in theeastern United States. More than two million people reside in the region, many of whom derive their livelihood directly or indirectly fromthe forest economy. The Northern Forest has supported a diverse woodand wood products industry for more than a century. In addition, withgrowing focus worldwide on the need to reduce carbon emissions, theforest is increasingly understood (as are all forests) as an importantmechanism for sequestering and storing carbon.This large forest ecosystem has the potential to continue to be thecornerstone of widespread and long-term economic development andrevitalization in the region. The extent of such benefits—and who enjoys the benefits—will depend largely on whether the resource is managed on a long-term sustainable basis, whether new uses for the forestresource are compatible with existing and future uses, whether wood isused for its highest value-added purpose, and whether markets (and theinfrastructure to supply those markets) develop in a way that providemaximum economic benefit to local, state, and regional economies.

Opportunitiesand ChallengesConfrontingthe NorthernForest RegionIn the global economy of the 21st century, knowledge,innovation, energy supply, and access to natural resources are keys to economic competitiveness and vitality. Ascommunities within the Northern Forest region continue to face significant transition and globalization inthe wood products industry (with related loss of localemployment and income), wood-based biomass energyand biofuels are important components of the region’sfuture wood-products economy.Energy supply and use is currently a central focus ofnational, state, and local policymakers across the UnitedStates. The impacts of climate change, the need toincrease energy efficiency, the national priority to reducereliance on foreign oil, and international security threatsare central concerns among many. These challengesbring much opportunity to the Northern Forest due tothe region’s large biomass resource, and they also bringsubstantial risk. Several important issues will influencethe future of the region’s economy and communities fordecades to come:Will the Northern Forest region becomea world leader in the innovation, production, and sustainable use of biomass energy, biofuels, and bioproducts created fromthe local wood resource, just as the regiononce did with pulp and papermaking andtraditional wood products?Or, will the shift from a fossil-basedeconomy to a bio-based economy lead toexploitation of Northern Forest biomassin a boom-and-bust cycle that does notsustain the region’s economy, energy supply, or forests on a long-term basis?

Northern ForestBiomass EnergyInitiativeThe Biomass Energy Resource Center, the NorthernForest Center, and the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire convened the Northern ForestBiomass Energy Initiative in 2006.The purpose of the initiative is to explore the potentialfor woody biomass from the Northern Forest to providean increased source of renewable, sustainable energy forthe region, and to determine what needs to happen inthe region for that potential to be realized.A multi-stakeholder Steering Committee was formedand a Working Session Conference and two SteeringCommittee meetings were held to engage the expertiseand insights of a diverse cross-section of experts fromthroughout the region in the areas of: Forest resources Wood products Conservation and recreation Economic development Biomass energy Financing Environmental impactsResults of these efforts are reflected on the followingpages.The purpose of theinitiative is to explorethe potential for woodybiomass from theNorthern Forest toprovide an increasedsource of renewable,sustainable energy forthe region, and todetermine what needsto happen in the regionfor that potential to berealized.

The Vision and Principlesof Local Biomass EnergyThe future envisioned by the Northern Forest Biomass Energy Initiativeis one in which biomass energy is harvested within the region in a waythat provides a stable, secure, cost-competitive, sustainable, and cleansource of energy that maximizes benefits for area residents, municipalities, institutions, and owners of small and large businesses. The visioncan be summarized in the term “Local Biomass Energy” and is premisedon the belief that local biomass energy should be achieved in a mannerconsistent with five guiding principles:Sustainable Forestry — to keep the forest healthyand ensure that harvest management supports the overall ecologicalfunction and integrity of the forest ecosystem.Maximized Efficiency — to ensure the energy valueof biomass harvested for fuel is utilized as fully and cleanly as possible.Local Energy — to use local wood resources for community and regional needs at the appropriate scale.Energy Security — to provide communities and businesses with a stable, uninterrupted, affordable, clean energy supplyusing local resources.Climate Change Mitigation — to reduce netcarbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration in order to mitigateglobal warming.A commitment to local biomass energy helps achieve a larger objectiveof re-invigorating the economies of Northern Forest communities bysubstituting local, renewable, biomass fuels for imported fossil fuels.While payments for fossil fuels cause a huge drain on the wealth of theregion, purchase of wood fuel keeps energy dollars circulating in thelocal economy.

Key Recommendations forthe Northern Forest RegionPresented below are 17 recommendations in six key areas developedby the Northern Forest Biomass Energy Initiative and directed at theGovernors, the Congressional Delegation, state and municipal publicpolicymakers, and industry leaders in the Northern Forest region. Therecommendations support the vision of local biomass energy and accomplishment of that vision consistent with the principles stated on theprevious page.There are critical roles for both the private and public sectors in achieving the vision of local biomass energy. The private sector will likely raiseand invest the majority of capital needed to expand biomass energy inthe region, own and manage most of the forest resources, and buildand operate the majority of future energy facilities. The public sectorcan support and complement private initiative by providing incentivesfor innovation and creating policies that safeguard public resources andpromote the public good. In all cases, the interests of large and smallforestland owners need to be taken into account.The recommendations on the following pages: Encourage private-sector initiative inspired by public-sector leadership and support. Emphasize public- and private-sector partnerships that leverage action and investment in each sector while adding substantial value forprivate industry, government, and local communities. Address issues of interest to large forest landowners (both publicand private) as well as small private landowners increasingly referredto as “family forest landowners.”Implementation of the recommendations will yield economic returns,increase energy supply, improve energy security, and result in significantenvironmental benefits in the Northern Forest region for decades tocome.These recommendations are offered as a broad call to action across thefour states of the Northern Forest region. Some may apply more tocertain states and less to others. Implementation will vary from state tostate. Some recommendations may be possible to achieve within existingbudgets but others will undoubtedly require increased state or federalfunding.

Key Recommendations for theNorthern Forest RegionAll action items listed below will begin soon orbe put into play over the next two years, withmany of them ongoing. Wood SupplyTo understand the capacity of theforest to supply woody biomass ona sustainable basis and to safeguardagainst over-harvesting:1. Using existing federal and state inventorydata and newly developed information, conducta four-state wood supply assessment that identifies the amount of low-quality woody biomasspotentially available from the Northern Forestfor use as energy on a long-term, sustainablebasis.WHO: State Forestry Agencies in collaborationwith others2. Develop and implement methods for tracking total annual harvest volumes used, forenergy and for forest products, and compare todata on forest growth in the four states. Update annually and use results to guide futuremanagement and harvesting policies.WHO: State Forestry Agencies in collaborationwith others

Harvesting &ProcurementTo support sustainable forestmanagement:3. Fully fund and support state and federal agenciesto practice sustainable forest management on publiclands managed for timber harvesting using appropriate regulatory and legal mechanisms.WHO: Federal and State Forestry and Land Management Agencies, with support from Congress andState Legislatures4. Strongly support sustainable forest managementon private lands through a variety of voluntary approaches, such as independent verifiable certification,current use taxation programs, tax incentives, andother mechanisms.WHO: State Legislatures and State ForestryAgencies5. Develop a model wood fuel procurement standard that ensures biomass is harvested on a longterm sustainable basis. Require its use for publicfacilities and encourage its use for private facilities.WHO: Public- and Private-Sector collaborationincluding Industry Experts and State ForestryAgenciesUse of Standard by Public Facilities:WHO: Congressional Delegation for Federal Facilities, Governors for State FacilitiesUse of Standard by Private Facilities:WHO: Private- and Public-Sector Leaders6. Maintain, support, and expand the existing forestharvesting and wood-products supply infrastructurethrough workforce development and training, policies, legislation, and incentives that help forest landowners, loggers, truckers, and others involved in theforest-products supply chain.WHO: State Forestry, Employment, and EconomicDevelopment Agencies7. Expand education and outreach to forest landowners, the public, and other stakeholders on:sustainable forest stewardship; the variety of publicbenefits from using biomass energy in a clean, sustainable way; and mechanisms, such as certification,for realizing those benefits.WHO: State Forestry Agencies, Private LandownerGroups, and others Efficient TechnologyTo encourage clean and efficient use of biomass fuel and improve technologies thatare matched to community-scale uses:8. Create and fund a “Northeast Biomass EnergyIncubator Center” to bring clean, efficient biomassenergy technology to commercialization, and tosupport biomass energy project development andimplementation.WHO: Private Industry and NongovernmentalOrganizations, State Energy and Economic Development Agencies, US Department of Energy, Institutions of Higher Education9. Create and/or expand federal and state grantprograms, tax incentives, and other financial mechanisms to help develop and bring to market clean,efficient biomass energy technologies.WHO: Private Industry and NongovernmentalOrganizations, State Energy and Economic Development Agencies, US Department of Energy, USDARural Development, and US Forest Service10. Ensure that federal and state policies andprograms that seek to stimulate renewable electricity production—such as Resource Portfolio Standard (RPS), Renewable Energy Credit (REC), andSystems Benefit Charge (SBC) programs—includeclean, efficient biomass energy technologies and theiruse.WHO: US Department of Energy, State EnergyOffices, State Public Service Commissions, StateLegislatures, and others

EmissionsTo ensure that biomass energy is used inways that meet or exceed air emissionsregulations:11. Establish consistent federal and state air emissions stardards and regulations for biomass facilities using multi-pollutant strategies that require theanalysis of total pollutant exposure, including netcarbon emissions.WHO: State and Federal Air Regulators Climate ChangeMitigationTo increase carbon sequestration anddecrease atmospheric carbon dioxidelevels by supporting utilization of woodybiomass to replace or offset fossil fuel:12. Evaluate and document the carbon cycle of biomass energy to increase understanding of the factorsand conditions that lead to carbon-neutral biomassenergy utilization and carbon sequestration in forestssupplying wood fuel.WHO: Public/Private/Academic-Sector collaboration involving Climate, Energy, and Forestry Experts13. Use state, regional, or national carbon registriesto measure, aggregate, and verify carbon offsetsthrough substitution of biomass energy for fossilfuels. Structure the programs so they interface withnational and international carbon markets.WHO: Public- and Private-Sector collaboration involving Climate, Energy, and Forestry Experts14. Support and expand national, regional, state,and municipal carbon sequestration and reductionpolicies and initiatives—such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and carbon taxes—andidentify the role of sustainable biomass energy inachieving the objectives of those initiatives. Assistbiomass energy project developers in marketing andselling the carbon sequestration and carbon emissionreduction values of their projects.WHO: Public- and Private-Sector collaborationinvolving Climate, Energy, and Forestry Experts

Investment &FinancingTo stimulate the purchase and use of avariety of clean, efficient biomass energytechnologies and develop biomass energyprojects that enhance local economies:15. Create or expand federal and state financingmechanisms—such as grants, loans, loan guarantees,Industrial Revenue Bonds, and tax incentives—thathelp capitalize and support the use of clean, efficientbiomass energy in publicly owned facilities. Providenew state or local bonding capacity (through mechanisms such as the creation of state renewable energyfinance authorities) to support capital investments inprojects that use and/or produce renewable energyfrom biomass or other sources.WHO: Public- and Private-Sector collaborationinvolving Investment, Financing, and EconomicDevelopment Experts16. Develop public policy mechanisms and financialincentives that support the use of clean and efficientbiomass technologies in thermal applications forinstitutions, communities, and businesses.WHO: Public- and Private-Sector collaborationinvolving Investment, Financing, and EconomicDevelopment Experts17. Support local ownership of biomass energy projects that deliver public benefits by encouraging thecreation of energy service companies that allow localcapital investment and equity and provide consolidated technical, financial, tax, regulatory, permitting,and marketing expertise.WHO: Public- and Private-Sector collaborationinvolving Investment, Financing, and EconomicDevelopment Experts

Time is of the EssenceThe potential for increased use of biomass for energy is more and more in the national and international spotlight as interest grows in addressingclimate change and finding new sources of energy.Biomass is becoming recognized for its potentialas an important new source of secure, renewable,carbon-neutral energy. Woody biomass is beingconsidered for liquid transportation fuels, increasedwood pellet production, substitutes for diesel andfuel oil, new wood-fired power plants, distributedgeneration, combined heat and power, heatingplants for buildings and campuses, as a substitutefor petroleum in making a vast range of bioproducts, and as an export product for overseas markets.In his 2007 State of the Union Address, PresidentBush further accelerated national interest in stimulating biomass energy use by calling for a major effort (backed by a substantial commitment of fundsin the President’s 2008 budget) to produce ethanolfrom woodchips and other cellulosic feedstocks.The President’s target: to “continue investing innew methods of producing ethanol—using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agriculturalwastes and reduce gasoline usage in the UnitedStates by 20 percent in the next 10 years.”What some describe as “the race for the resource”of forest biomass is on. How will the many potential uses of this renewable yet finite woody biomassresource compete with one another? What will bethe role of biomass in the bigger picture of thenation’s renewable energy future?These are unprecedented national questions thathave great implications for the Northern Forestregion. Congressional and state leaders from theregion would provide valuable service by inspiringthoughtful planning and policy development tosupport wise use of the Northern Forest biomassresource in anticipation of pressure to shift awayfrom fossil fuels to renewable energy both withinthe region and nationwide.The Next Step:Increased Regional Collaborationat the Highest LevelsThe Northern Forest Biomass Energy Initiativestrongly encourages the Congressional Delegationand the Governors of the Northern Forest regionto coordinate across the four states—at the highestlevels of government—to ensure implementation ofthe recommendations of the Northern Forest BiomassEnergy Initiative. Such collaboration could build on,and expand, the public- and private-sector dialoguestarted by the Northern Forest Biomass EnergyInitiative.



The Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Carsey Institute, and the Northern Forest Center wish toacknowledge and thank the numerous biomass energy, forestry, wood industry, economic development,conservation, and recreation professionals from throughout the Northern Forest region who served onthe Steering Committee and/or participated in the Working Session Conference for the NorthernForest Biomass Energy Initiative. Their work inspired and informed this Action Plan and providedvaluable expertise and insights throughout the process.The Biomass EnergyResource Center isa nonprofit technical assistancecenter whose missionis to achieve a healthier environment, strengthen localeconomies, and increase energy security across the UnitedStates through the developmentof sustainable biomass energysystems at the community level.The Carsey Instituteseeks to build diverse, resilientrural communities by providingin-depth research, analysis, andpolicy papers to help developstrategies for rural areas inNew England and across thenation.The Northern ForestCenter is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes peopleto build healthy communities,economies, and ecosystems byworking together across theNorthern Forest nh.eduwww.biomasscenter.orgMajor funding for the work of the Northern Forest Biomass Energy Initiative has been provided bythe US Department of Energy through the support of US Senator Patrick Leahy.Photography on back cover courtesy Jerry and Marcy Monkman, other images Biomass Energy Resource Center.Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled FSC-certified paper manufactured using100% wind-generated electricity.

Biomass Energy Resource CenterPO Box 1611Montpelier,VT 05601

The Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Northern Forest Center, and the Carsey Institute at the Univer-sity of New Hampshire convened the Northern Forest Biomass Energy Initiative in 2006. The purpose of the initiative is to explore the potential for woody biomass from the Northern Forest to provide

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