Inslee, Baird and Burning Issues

By Chris Kissel May 7, 2009

The office of Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wa,1) told PubliCola yesterday that the Congressman is working with Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA,3) to ease concerns that Baird and other Congressmembers have about comprehensive climate change legislation. Baird is reportedly concerned that the bill bans "forest biomass" (or wood waste) as an energy source.

Inslee is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is currently debating the bill. Inslee wrote much of the bill, including limits on "black carbon," a possible bi-product of  forest biomass burning that contributes to global warming. Inslee's office didn't say whether Inslee's black carbon legislation would affect getting other environmentally friendly forest biomass into the comprehensive bill.

As we reported earlier this week, Rep. Baird is reportedly part of a regional, bipartisan effort to get the ban on forest biomass lifted. He also chaired a field briefing outside Vancouver last month to calm environmental concerns about biomass energy. Inslee also participated in the panel.

“I thank Congressman Baird for his work on the topic and look forward to working with him further on this subject," Inslee said today. "The exclusion of sustainably harvested biomass is a legitimate issue [concern], and we’re working to see this resolved.”

Rep. Baird argues new technology has made the practice safer and that its adoption would be a boon to the regional economy around the 3rd district, which he represents.

It isn't clear how much Inslee's concerns about black carbon will effect his willingness to throw his weight behind Baird's biomass cause. For now, however, he says he sees Baird's point of view and he's willing to work with Baird to get the issue on the floor.

"Biomass, as a form of renewable energy, is a good way to bring clean energy jobs to rural communities throughout Washington state," said Inslee. "I am concerned that some sustainable forms of biomass may be unfairly excluded from the renewable energy standard (RES) as it’s currently written."

Rep. Baird's office did not return our calls.

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