Corpsmember Jesus Lopez uses a chainsaw to remove branches on a downed tree at the Lost Claim Campground in the Stanislaus National Forest.
December 8, 2021 - Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called on the Environmental Protection Agency to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard so that small trees and vegetation on federal land cleared during wildfire mitigation efforts are allowable sources for biomass and, thus, eligible for credits.
“I write to request that the Environmental Protection Agency use its administrative authority to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to expand allowable sources for biomass to include vegetation cleared from human-occupied areas where it creates wildfire hazards,” Feinstein wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Since 2010, California has experienced unprecedented wildfires and this change would help reduce risk in my state, improve forest health, and make use of cleared vegetation.”
Full text of the letter follows and is available here:
December 7, 2021
The Honorable Michael Regan
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, D.C. 20004
Dear Administrator Regan,
I write to request that the Environmental Protection Agency use its administrative authority to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to expand allowable sources for biomass to include vegetation cleared from human-occupied areas where it creates wildfire hazards. Since 2010, California has experienced unprecedented wildfires and this change would help reduce risk in my state, improve forest health, and make use of cleared vegetation.
As you may know, Section 201 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) allows biomass from federal land to be sourced “from the immediate vicinity of buildings and other areas regularly occupied by people, or of public infrastructure, at risk from wildfire.” In 2010, the EPA published implementation guidelines for that category in its final rule, “Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.” Unfortunately, the implementation of this law did not account for areas with wildfire hazard potential and excluded most of the Western United States where catastrophic wildfires are increasing common. (See attached map, “2020 U.S. Forest Service Wildfire Hazard Potential,” which underscores the risk in the West.)
As this year’s fuel quantities become finalized, I urge the EPA, in conjunction with federal land management agencies, to expand the criteria for which qualifying biomass could be sourced and, thus, eligible for credits under the cellulosic category in the RFS. This determination should be made in accordance with the latest science, and to recognize the exacerbating threat that climate change poses to catastrophic wildfire in the American West.
The Western United States has seen a rapid expansion of wildfire risk resulting from climate change. This is one reason I am working to improve the RFS so our transportation systems reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including introducing the bipartisan “Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act.” If biomass criteria were changed, this much needed improvement to the RFS would further our efforts towards a cleaner fuel standard and reduce wildfire risk across California and the West.
United States Senator
Source: Senator Dianne Feinstein