[Forest_Biomass] Forest Biomass in the News 2-22-2011

WEEKS Kevin kevin.weeks at state.or.us
Tue Feb 22 10:14:17 PST 2011

These news articles related to forest biomass appeared in the past few days in Pacific NW media sources:

Kitzhaber's biomass strategy faces hurdles - Associated Press

Goldmark (WA DNR) addresses biomass in Seattle Times Op-Ed<http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2014199446_guest12goldm.html>

Bill would create biomass tax credit
Transportation would be subsidized
By Lauren Dake<mailto:ldake at bendbulletin.com> / The Bulletin, February 19. 2011

SALEM - Some lawmakers are hoping to revitalize Oregon's once vibrant timber economy and give the biomass industry a kick start by giving a tax break to those who transport the woody materials from the forest to the biofuel producer.

"It's a jobs bill for rural Oregon," said Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas, one of the sponsors of HB 2936. "For once, we're doing something that is going to apply to rural Oregon jobs. And that's enormous because most of our economic development is urban-centered."

The bill would give a $10-per-ton tax credit to people transporting woody biomass materials from the forest. The bill also directs the Oregon

Department of Energy to study biomass facilities throughout the state and take stock of what is on the market, such as old mills that could be reconfigured, and what should be developed.

Proponents of the bill said it will help Oregon's economy not only by creating more jobs, but also by investing in an industry they believe could be successful in Oregon. Opponents point out that the biomass industry is growing over all without the tax credits.

A financial impact statement on this bill has not been done, so the tax credit's cost is unclear. Thompson pointed out it's based on an income tax break, which draws from the state general fund.

"We're an income tax state," he said. "Where does the general fund come from? Income, from people who have jobs. If we create jobs and invest money, we should get back more (than we give up through tax credits). ... So, instead of decreasing the general fund, it would actually increase it, because more people will be employed."

Jody Wiser, with Tax Fairness Oregon, said she's worried that there's no way to know how much the bill will cost the state without capping it. She said biomass businesses are already growing in Oregon.

"I'm concerned that if the businesses are growing without subsidies - I'm not sure I believe we have to have a subsidy to keep growing," she said.

Thompson sponsored a nearly identical bill in 2009, but it died in committee. He said he has more hope this time around because people want jobs.

"There are lots of people with chain saws and nothing to do with them," he said. "This puts them back to work cleaning up the woods and making electricity."

Both co-speakers of the House, Rep. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, and Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, are sponsoring this bill.

Chuck Burley, a former Central Oregon lawmaker and consultant with American Forest Resources Council, said the biggest cost of the biofuel equation is transportation.

"Biomass doesn't pay its way out of the woods," he said. "There is so little value, and the biggest cost factor is transportation."

Rob Broberg, president of Biogreen Sustainable Energy, the company behind the effort to build a new biomass plant in La Pine, said he supports the idea.

"It allows you to tackle the terrain that is more difficult to go out and harvest," he said.

In 2010, about $5 million was given in tax credits relating to woody biomass, according to Christopher Allanach, with the state's revenue office.

Lauren Dake can be reached at 541-419-8074 or at ldake at bendbulletin.com<mailto:ldake at bendbulletin.com>.

Kevin Weeks

Public Information Officer

Oregon Department of Forestry

Agency Affairs Office

(503) 945-7427

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