Comments on House Joint Resolution 471
by Linda Casey, Alabama State Forester

There is an ongoing national and state discussion to determine the right definition of what constitutes woody biomass.

The definition included in The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, prevents almost all federal land biomass, such as trees, wood brush, thinnings, chips, and slash, from counting toward the mandate if it is used to manufacture biofuels. More importantly for Alabama, it would severely limit a landowners ability to have access to potential biomass markets.

Under 2007 definition 6.6 million acres out of the states 22.5 million acres would qualify under the RFS provisions. This would negatively impact the potential value added opportunities for landowners and adversely impact the economic gain the state would realize from emerging biofuel markets. Additionally, this provision could result in a decrease in responsible forest management by denying landowners access to a market for the excess slash and small trees, which will help reduce fire hazards.

The 2008 Farm Bill definition does not restrict the ability of local resource managers and landowners to properly manage forests and it provides a definition of “renewable biomass” along with additional guidance that includes the use of “any organic matter available on a renewable or recurring basis.

The Alabama House recently passed a resolution, HJR 471 that supports the 2008 Farm Bill language. I am asking for your support and help by contacting your State Senator and urging that they support HJR 471. The health of Alabama’s forest, the economic opportunity for both the state and it’s forest landowners is at stake.

Linda S. Casey, R.F.
Alabama State Forester
P. O. Box 302550
Montgomery, AL 36130

(334) 240-9304  office
(334) 850-3561  cell