WFPA members are committed to advancing sustainable forestry in Washington State to provide forest products and environmental benefits for the public.

Biomass industry faces excitement and uncertainty

2014-09-26 Ashley Bach

In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency said it was putting off a decision on potential greenhouse-gas restrictions on biomass for three years. The delay was considered a big victory for biomass proponents and a loss for environmental groups.

Since then, biomass projects have continued to be built. The largest biomass plant in North America, using wood pellets, just opened in Ontario, Canada.

"A new era has dawned in Ontario; one where the air will be cleaner and the multiple costs of coal-fired generation have become a distant memory,” said Canada’s Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli.   

Biomass Magazine says demand for wood pellets is strong in European countries looking to move away from fossil fuel energy, and a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency says 20 percent of all global electricity could come from biomass - whether it be wood or other materials - by 2030.

Meanwhile, an $85 million biomass plant in Port Angeles, Wash., is set to become fully operational later this year. The Japan-owned Nippon Paper Industries cogeneration plant was dedicated last fall with 20 megawatts of capacity but never hit full production because of technical problems inside the boiler. Those problems have now been fixed. 

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Scientists and experts are learning from the Oso landslide

2014-09-19 Ashley Bach

Six months after the Oso landslide, our state and community are still in the process of learning and healing. There are multiple groups taking a deeper look at the slide, everything from its causes and its impact to the emergency response and how development is approved near steep slopes. A 12-member commission of experts enlisted by Gov. Jay Inslee and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick held its first meeting last month, and a team of geologists released a report about the causes of the landslide in July.

The job of Inslee and Lovick's commission is to glean lessons from the disaster, but with the tragedy still so close and so powerful, it's impossible for commissioners to do their job without strong emotion.

The commission toured the landslide site in August and later that day, held its first meeting in Everett.

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Diary of a Working Forest: Biomass

We already know that the private forest land in Washington State plays a vital role in the carbon cycle. Now with biomass fuel we can make use of these working forests for another carbon positive process, power generation. Biomass boilers use harvest and milling by products to generate steam as an alternative to fossil fuels.