News Releases from Headquarters›Office of the Administrator (AO)
Administrator Pruitt Visits New Hampshire: Talks Water Quality, Biomass Carbon Neutrality, Forest Procurement Practices
Manchester, N.H. – In a visit to New Hampshire today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt met with the forest products industry and Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH) to discuss a wide range of environmental issues. Administrator Pruitt provided Governor Sununu with a letter announcing EPA's efforts to work towards a carbon-neutral policy for biomass and clarify federal procurement recommendations for responsibly managed forests.
“For years, the federal government rendered most U.S. forestry producers ineligible for federal procurement projects and created confusion around biomass carbon neutrality,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Understanding the importance of the forest products industry to the State of New Hampshire, EPA is focused on clarifying regulations that were encumbering the industry.”
Administrator Pruitt also met with members of the Governor’s Cabinet, including: Commissioner of Environmental Services Robert Scott, Commissioner of Agriculture Shawn Jasper, and Commissioner of Cultural Resources Jeff Rose.
“This morning, I had a very productive meeting with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “We discussed wide-ranging issues facing New Hampshire, and it is critical that our priorities are heard. I was pleased to hear the EPA agreed to expedite the bedrock water table testing to further ensure that the Seacoast’s drinking water has not been contaminated by the Coakley Landfill. I am confident that the state, and our towns, will have a positive and productive relationship with the EPA moving forward.”
Later, a group representing the forest products industry hosted Administrator Pruitt for a roundtable at Central Paper Products Co., Inc. The discussion included the Nature Conservancy of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, New Hampshire Forests, New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands, and Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
“The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association is pleased Administrator Pruitt took the time to come to New Hampshire to meet with timberland owners, and members of the forest products industry. As the second most forested state in the nation, New Hampshire’s forests are an important part of our heritage, culture, and economy. Having a regulatory environment that promotes the growing, management and processing of timber will ensure this legacy continues. A managed forest is a healthy forest: it provides clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities - all the while providing jobs and economic benefits for our rural communities,” said New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association Executive Director Jasen Stock.
On April 13, 2017, in accordance with President Trump’s Executive Order 13777, Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, EPA sought comment on regulatory barriers that should be targeted for repeal, replacement, or modification. Among the over 60,000 comments received, members of the forest and forest products community highlighted a number of concerns with EPA’s past regulatory treatment of the industry. Top concerns included whether EPA had, to date, failed to take proper account of the reality that energy derived from biomass may, in appropriate circumstances, be recognized as carbon neutral, along with the Agency’s own procurement recommendations for wood and lumber products.
In 2011, EPA submitted “Draft Accounting Framework for Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources” to the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). That draft accounting framework sought to identify and outline the scientific and technical considerations that come into play in ascertaining the extent to which the production, processing, and use of biomass materials at stationary sources is indeed carbon neutral. The Agency updated the accounting framework in 2014. After seven years of ongoing review and analysis of this challenging issue, the SAB has yet to reach consensus.
Meanwhile, the Agency recently received direction from Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, which urged that agencies proactively recognize forest biomass as a renewable agency source and establish policies that reflect its carbon neutrality. Spurred on by this congressional action, which had occurred in conjunction with Executive Order 13783, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, a multi-agency effort has now been initiated between EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the focused goal of establishing a mechanism for federal cooperation and consistency on the use of biomass.
For its specific part, EPA has incorporated into its ongoing review of, and improvement to, Clean Air Act permitting programs generally a concerted effort to develop a range of options consistent with a carbon-neutral policy for biomass from forests and other lands and sectors.
EPA is also developing actions to clarify its own federal procurement recommendations, issued by the prior Administration in September 2015. As initially drafted, those recommendations only recognized a single-forest certification standard as qualifying for federal procurement opportunities. This effectively made a large majority of responsibly managed forests, including those certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the American Tree Farm System, ineligible to participate.
Today, EPA is working to guarantee consistent procurement recommendations. Additionally, EPA is working to ensure, as appropriate, either parity with, or deferral to, USDA’s preexisting mandatory purchasing requirements for federal agencies, as set out under its BioPreferred Program.
Additional details outlining EPA’s actions can be read in the letter that Administrator Pruitt handed to Governor Sununu, found here: ttps://www.epa.gov/air-and-radiation/policy-update-epa-programmatic-treatment-biomass-and-forest-products-industry