Bipartisan Bill Would Expand Development of Sustainable Wood Products from Federal Forests
U.S. Senators Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today introduced the Community Wood Facilities Assistance Act, a bipartisan bill that would make it easier to develop sustainable wood products and energy from biomass made from small-diameter timber leftover from forest thinning projects, including projects that reduce the risk of wildfire.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“The bipartisan Community Wood Facilities Act is important for Arizona and its rural forest communities,” Senator Kelly said. “By expanding the Forest Service’s Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovations Grant Program and spurring innovative uses for wood products, we can increase demand for forest restoration timber, create jobs in rural Arizona, and help maintain the health of our forests for the future to reduce wildfire risk.”
“This is a win-win bill,” Senator Feinstein said. “It will help develop new sustainable wood products and energy from biomass while promoting necessary thinning projects that reduce the risk of wildfire in our forests. And it will help create jobs and spur economic development in rural communities throughout the country.”
“Throughout Maine’s history, our forest products industry has helped drive local economies and sustain rural communities. As the economy changes, this vital industry is evolving to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said Senator Collins. “Our bill would make improvements to the Forest Service’s Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovations Grant Program, which helps to promote innovative uses for wood products. We encourage our colleagues to support this bill that would spur new economic activity and maintain the health of our forests in Maine and across the country.”
The Community Wood Facilities Assistance Act would:
- Improve the Forest Service’s Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovations Grant Program, which provides assistance for the construction of small wood products facilities, by:
- Increasing the authorization from $25 million to $50 million per year.
- Increasing the maximum grant per facility from $1 million to $5 million.
- Increasing the federal cost-share from 35 percent to 50 percent.
- Increasing the maximum size for community wood energy systems eligible for grant funding from 5 to 15 megawatts.
- Changing the program’s name to Community Wood Facilities Grant Program to avoid the current confusion with the similarly named Wood Innovations Grant Program.
- Lower the Wood Innovations Grant Program minimum non-federal cost-share from 50 percent to 33.3 percent. The program provides grants for proposed innovative uses and applications and the expansion of markets for wood products.