Biomass, Renewable Energy Mandates Distort Markets
The forest products industry is the nation’s leading producer and user of carbon-neutral renewable biomass energy. This bioenergy is created by burning manufacturing residuals from the trees grown to create paper and wood products.
Paper and wood products manufacturing facilities account for 62 percent of the renewable biomass energy consumed by all manufacturing sectors, most of which is derived from leftover materials not used in the production process like tree limbs, bark, and liquid biomass.
However, the rapid increase of government mandates and incentives for using biomass as an energy source could upset the forest use/product markets balance. Government policies that encourage additional demand for biomass for energy should be coupled with policies that increase the available supply of wood to meet future product demands.
- Government mandates and incentives that distort the market for raw material should be avoided.
- Market forces should determine how wood and wood residuals are used, whether for renewable energy or for products.
- Policies that have the unintended effect of diverting biomass supply to subsidized energy use should be avoided.
The definition of biomass that includes municipal solid waste should specifically exclude commonly-recycled materials, because these policies risk diverting paper from being recycled into new products to being burned for energy.