AB 590: More funding for biomass and improving forest health

woodmasspileA report released by the University of California, Berkeley and the National Park Service reveals that wildfire and deforestation are contributing more than expected to the State’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). This new finding may make meeting GHG reductions under AB 32 more difficult since these emissions were never accounted for when establishing the original baseline.

California has more than 33 million acres of forestland – storing an estimated 850 million tons of carbon just in 2010 alone. Just one hectare (about 2.5 acres) of redwood forest can store more than 10,000 tons of carbon, equal to the annual emissions from 500 Americans. But drought, disease, and unmanaged forests can lead to catastrophic wildfires that emit tons of greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere, eventually negating the reductions from other sectors.

That’s where biomass facilities can help. Currently biomass facilities provide California with a green waste-to-energy power source by transforming wood waste from sustainably managed forests into clean energy. The biomass facilities dispose of nearly 8 million tons of California’s waste and diverts between 1.5 and 3.5 million tons of C02 emissions per year into clean, renewable power.

That’s why Calforests is supporting AB 590, which would appropriate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds to pay for the environmental and economic benefits the state derives from biomass power generation. AB 590 will help establish a sustainable system that helps remove waste, reduces the chances of a devastating wildfire, while at the same time providing clean power.

Without this energy conversion the bulk of these materials would otherwise be burned in the open, buried in landfills, or allowed to remain in the forest, increasing the risk of wildfires. AB 590 would provide much needed support for biomass utilization in the forestry sector, not only assuring that the operating stand-alone plants can remain viable, but also providing an outlet for the waste we produce from our lands beyond what we can consume in our own facilities.

California needs to not only maintain healthy forests, but also put into a place a sustainable system where carbon emissions from wildfires are reduced.

AB 590 is a win-win for everyone.

Learn more about the bill here.