Resources for Policymakers
Increasing the role of biomass in America's energy future will help to improve our economy, environment, and energy security. Existing Federal and State biomass-related policies, along with other legislation that drives biomass R&D has facilitated the adoption of biomass technologies that decrease US dependence on foreign oil and reap other benefits. Pending policies and legislation, if enacted into law, could increase the adoption rate for biomass technologies.
Some examples of existing biomass incentives are:
- Excise Tax Exemption for Ethanol Blended Gasoline
- Excise Tax Exemption for Biodiesel
- Credit for Biodiesel under Alternative Fuel Fleet Requirements
- Commodity Credit Corporation Bioenergy Program
- Clean Air Act Oxygenated Fuel Requirements
Some examples of prominent proposed incentives for biomass use are:
- Renewable Fuel Standard
- Renewable Portfolio Standard
Why is biomass so important? Well, a quick summary of biomass benefits are listed below:
Biomass and the U.S. Economy: Cheap oil fuels America's economy — most of which is imported. Small changes in crude oil prices or supplies can have an enormous impact on our economy - increasing trade deficits, decreasing in industrial investment, and lowering employment levels. Developing a strong industry for biomass fuels, power, and products in the United States will have tremendous economic benefits including trade deficit reduction, job creation, and the strengthening of agricultural markets.
Biomass and U.S. Energy Security: According to the EIA, in 2002 the United States consumed 19.3M barrels of petroleum (crude oil and petroleum products) per day, or about one-quarter of total world oil production. More than half of that oil is imported and is mostly used in the transportation sector. One way to diversity our energy supply and to build economic security is to increase our consumption of renewable energy sources, such as biomass-derived transportation fuels (e.g. E10, E85, B20, or B100).
Biomass and the Environment: Biomass is a renewable energy and its usage has several environmental benefits. Growing biomass, (e.g. energy crops like switchgrass), has important land, habitat, and soil conservation benefits. Producing energy from residues in forests, mills and landfills avoids the release of methane into the atmosphere from decomposition of unused wood and agricultural wastes. Depending upon how much fossil energy is used to grow and process biomass feedstock, the result is a substantial reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, biomass is the only renewable energy that can be directly substituted for petroleum based transportation fuels, which account for one-third of US's CO2 emissions - one of the principal greenhouse gases. Much of this CO2 and other harmful emissions can be alleviated by substituting biofuels for fossil fuels or by using them as fuel additives — such as ethanol.