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Shaheen, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Revitalize America’s Forest Economy

**The Community Wood Energy Innovation Act of 2018 will encourage the deployment of biomass-fueled energy systems and spur markets for low-grade, low-value wood**

(Washington, DC) – Last week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Community Wood Energy Innovation Act of 2018. This bipartisan legislation promotes energy security and supports rural economies by helping to incentivize the removal and repurposing of low-grade and low-value wood. The bill would reauthorize the Community Wood Energy Program, a competitive grant program that aims to assist state and local governments with the costs of installing high-efficiency, biomass-fueled energy systems, such as combined heat and power (CHP). The Community Wood Energy Program expires at the end of 2018.

The Shaheen-Collins bill would also expand eligibility for the Community Wood Energy Program to private entities and create markets for low-grade wood by providing $25 million in annual funding to support capital investment, through matching grants, in facilities and systems that use these materials. The legislation will prioritize projects in areas with the greatest impact on local forests and those with limited access to natural gas, where this low-grade wood can be used for advanced wood heating.

“Today more than ever, low-grade timber markets in New England are struggling, placing a significant strain on family-owned lumber mills and New Hampshire forest owners, big and small,” said Senator Shaheen. “Our bipartisan legislation provides a multi-pronged solution that will help jumpstart markets for low-value wood, invest in rural energy needs and create jobs in New Hampshire’s forest-dependent communities.”

“Woody biomass is a cost-effective, renewable, and environmentally friendly source of energy that creates jobs here in New England,” said Senator Collins. “Our bill to reauthorize the Community Wood Energy Program supports the adoption of wood energy systems and helps grow the market for low-grade, low-value wood that landowners routinely remove to promote healthy forests.  We encourage our colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation that would spur new economic activity and protect our beautiful forests in Maine and across the country.”

Senator Shaheen has long advocated for America’s forests and initiatives that would survey and repurpose biomass for clean energy initiatives. Last week, she led a bipartisan letter, cosigned by Senator Collins and 48 other Senators, advocating for funding for the Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund and the Forest Legacy Program, both of which provide critical funding to preserve public lands and protect forests. In February, Shaheen introduced legislation that would provide incentives for private forest owners to improve and maintain sustainable forest management and for non-residential building owners to use less energy-intensive products, such as wood, as building materials.