OLYMPIA, Wash. - Governor Gregoire signed SB 5575, sponsored by Senator Hatfield, which helps preserve the good wage-paying jobs offered by the forest products industry. Organic by-products of the pulping process now qualify as renewable energy. In addition, the legislation changes the law to provide adequate recognition for biomass energy facilities as renewable, regardless of the date they were first constructed. This puts common sense back into the system by allowing facilities that can produce renewable energy and organic material to count.

In 2006, an initiative passed which required electric utilities to use renewable resources from facilities in operation after 1999. The initiative language also excluded certain renewable resources, such as spent pulping liquors. If we are going to move toward energy independence in the future, we must use common sense in counting renewable energy produced from organic material in facilities that are capable of producing it. This legislation helps preserve the economic viability of the pulp & paper industry in Southwestern Washington.

Mark Doumit said: "We need to do everything we can to use our renewable natural resources efficiently, and not pick winners and losers along the way. If we want healthy working forests we must ensure that our rural resource lands remain economically profitable." Doumit is the Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association, representing nearly 4 million acres of private forest landowners.

"We commend Governor Chris Gregoire, Senator Hatfield, and the Washington State legislature for recognizing the value that biomass has as part of the renewable energy portfolio," said American Forest & Paper Association President and CEO Donna Harman. "Our industry is a leader in the use of renewable biomass fuel as part of our manufacturing processes which helps reduce greenhouse gases. We are pleased that our facilities will now be recognized as a contributor to renewable energy use in Washington."

Source: Washington Forest Protection Association

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