OLYMPIA – Passage of a measure to promote aviation biofuel production from wood waste and mill residue in Washington State is drawing broad support. Large majorities in both houses of the 2011 Washington Legislature passed the residual forest biomass-to-jet fuel bill, which was signed into law today by Governor Chris Gregoire.

House Bill 1422 authorizes the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to collaborate on the development of a sustainable bio-aviation fuel-from-forest-biomass sector in the state. Working with the state Department of Commerce, Washington State University and the University of Washington, DNR will move forward with a demonstration project for the concept.

“We have an opportunity to bring our timber heritage and our aviation industry together to contribute to a more sustainable energy future,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “We can now move forward with a pilot project that will help us build a sustainable and efficient bio-aviation fuel industry. Instead of burning slash piles in the woods, we will be putting biomass to a higher and better use, while continuing to protect ecological health.”

Others commenting on the bill’s passage and signature into law:

“We’ve crafted this legislation to emphasize important new policy both for the environment and for the aerospace industry,” said State Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, the prime sponsor of HB 1422. “The biomass-to-fuel will spur investment in new technology for renewable energy, which is exactly what we need to generate new green jobs and to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This work is critical for our energy security and for the environment. What we’re talking about here is a win-win for Washington people – and with no cost to the state budget.”

“This bill represents a tremendous opportunity to develop clean energy solutions that will benefit Washington state and its residents,” said Bill Glover, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Vice-President of Environment and Aviation Policy. “Having a sustainable transportation system is vital to our state's economy, and our leaders should be commended for their leadership in addressing the challenge in creative ways.”

“This legislation is in alignment with WSU’s growing research into the sustainable use of woody biomass as a feedstock for tomorrow’s aviation biofuel,” commented John Gardner, Vice President, Advancement and External Affairs, Washington State University. “The public’s investment in research pays off for everyone when WSU’s expertise is combined with the private sector to produce tomorrow’s innovations.”

DNR Forest Biomass Initiative
As part of DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative, aviation biofuel would be the highest and best use for residual forest biomass, as well as a unique opportunity to help new, efficient technologies get to the marketplace. Forest biomass is envisioned as a sustainable energy source that can play a meaningful role in Washington’s renewable energy sector. Using forest biomass, such as logging slash or forest health treatment thinnings, can also help maintain the working forestlands that provide habitat, clean water and other benefits to the public.

Forest Biomass Initiative Timeline

* February 2009 – Goldmark launches Forest Biomass Initiative
* April 2009 – Legislature passes and Governor Gregoire signs bill
* January 2010 – Goldmark selects four pilot projects across the state
* January 2010 – Goldmark requests forest biomass long-term supply agreements bill, requiring a supply study to ensure sustainable development of the industry
* March 2010 – Forest Biomass Supply Agreements bill becomes law
* July 2010 – U.S. Forest Service grants DNR $1 million to conduct forest health treatments and all-lands forest biomass supply study
* December 2010 – DNR selects the University of Washington and TSS Consultants to conduct supply study expected to be completed in the fall of 2011
* December 2010 – DNR delivers report to the legislature on status of pilot projects – press release & report
* January 2011 – Goldmark launches Phase 2 of the Forest Biomass Initiative focusing on aviation biofuels
* April 2011 – Washington State Legislature passes HB-1422; Governor Gregoire signs bill

For more information on forest biomass and the Forest Biomass Initiative, visit DNR’s website.

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