Friday, July 1, 2011

Oregon Closer to a Biomass Surge

Moving away from fossil fuels seems to be the goal of most in today's society.  Coal is at the forefront of the debate when discussing the effects of burning fossil fuels.  However, is there an alternative source of energy that is high in abundance and less harmful to the environment?  The state of Oregon believes biomass is the source of energy and if the state has it's way, Oregon would be at the forefront of the biomass push.  In January the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decided to defer regulating greenhouse gas emissions from biomass burning three years.  This pivotal decision could revive the state's efforts to burn wood for power.

Those that support biomass hope that the energy produced from wood-fired power plants and boilers have a dual effect.  The biomass movement will greatly effect Oregon's economy by providing labor for "thinning" projects in the national forests, reduce the risk of wild fire, and provide a local source of fuel that many believe is cleaner than coal.

Is wood burning really a form of green energy?  Many assume biomass is carbon neutral.  However, there are critics who say that wood burning could lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.  Some even say that the pollutants would be greater than burning coal.

A final decision related to the regulation of biomass has yet to be made.  However, the latest decision by the Environmental Protection Agency could mean that biomass will take off in Oregon and throughout the country sooner than expected.  This is great news for the local economy.  Regardless if biomass is a viable option in the future, it is great that we are looking at options to eliminate fossil fuels.  Experimenting with new techniques and technology allows us to explore our options when it comes to renwewable energy.  Hopefully, other states and regions will take the time to research alternatives the way that Oregon has taken the lead thus far.
-Rob Beech

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