PaperAge Magazine

Achieving Clear Policy on Carbon Neutral Forest Biomass is Overdue

By Donna Harman, President and CEO, American Forest & Paper Association

carbon-neutral biomass energy

May 17, 2018 - The paper and wood products industry represents one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation, eager to strengthen the economy and boost American manufacturing jobs through supportive public policy that levels the playing field with competitors around the globe.

Regulatory certainty on the carbon neutrality of forest-based renewable biomass is a goal we've been working toward since 2010 when EPA first created a cloud about its future. Recent steps by EPA suggest there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Step by step, our industry and its many stakeholders have been advancing solutions. A year ago, Congress provided direction to the administration to ensure clear and consistent policies on renewable, forest-based biomass energy. And a month ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new policy that reflects this direction and long-standing scientific principles by recognizing as carbon neutral the paper and wood products industry's use of renewable biomass for energy production.

We are encouraged on both fronts and look forward to working with the EPA on the next step — implementing public policy that recognizes as carbon neutral the paper and wood products industry's use of renewable biomass for energy production. Our companies have waded in a fog of regulatory uncertainty on this issue for years and understand clear policy is long overdue.

Prior to 2010, EPA policy recognized biomass energy as “carbon neutral” — a position in line with the rest of the world. But then, the 2010 Tailoring Rule led to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from biomass energy for the first time. Despite promises of review and clarity, no forward movement. That is, until now.

In the United States, our manufacturers have long applied sustainable and innovative forest management practices. Across rural and urban communities in 45 states, more than 900,000 employees produce the products that make everyday life easier. And in the process, they fully utilize biomass remaining materials to generate renewable energy in a highly-efficient process, creating value from byproducts and residuals from harvesting and manufacturing of products.

These companies deserve to have scientifically-sound regulatory policy that provides a level playing field with global competitor countries so paper and wood products manufacturers can contribute to our growing economy and support American manufacturing jobs as they work to continue reducing their greenhouse gas impact. In fact, since 2005, we have reduced our GHG emission per ton by 16 percent and are on track to do more.

Thanks to Congress and new EPA biomass policy, they have that opportunity. We call clear policy direction from Washington progress, and you can count on us to keep the ball moving forward in working with EPA and other stakeholders on implementing regulation to create long-lasting public policy.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. AF&PA member companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry's sustainability initiative — Better Practices, Better Planet 2020.

The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures approximately $200 billion in products annually, and employs nearly 900,000 men and women. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $50 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.