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Oregon Biomass Coordinating Group

The Oregon Biomass Coordinating Group (OBCG) is an interagency group formed in July 2005 to coordinate agency roles in biomass market development and electricity generation detailed in Oregon’s Renewable Energy Action Plan (REAP). Adopted by Governor Kulongoski in 2005, the plan’s overarching goals are to encourage and accelerate the sustainable production of energy from renewable sources; stimulate economic development, particularly in rural parts of the state; and improve the environmental future of Oregon.
As noted in the plan, developing new biomass energy markets can provide alternatives to burning forest biomass residues from timber harvests, stand improvement activities, fuels treatments, and thinning. Agricultural and urban biomass wastes can be utilized as recycled material or fuel for energy facilities. Barriers to development include the lack of certainty in biomass outputs and the high cost of gathering and transporting biomass to energy conversion facilities. Investing in forest and other biomass conversion to energy will lead to multiple environmental, economic and social benefits. These benefits include:
  • reduced wildfire risks to communities and wildfire suppression costs to taxpayers;
  • increased timber supplies;
  • improved forest health, water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation areas;
  • reduced air pollution from wildfire and prescribed forest or crop burning smoke;
  • extended landfill life with recovery of biomass and biogas;
  • reduced and avoided carbon dioxide and methane emissions;
  • maintenance of family-wage jobs;
  • new forest and agricultural industry infrastructure in rural Oregon; and
  • identification of emerging technologies beneficial to the development of biomass resources.
For specific biomass development actions, see Section 6, Resource Specific Actions for biomass, in the Renewable Energy Action Plan.  Utilizing biomass from agricultural, forest and urban sources can offer significant contributions to the state’s renewable energy goals and help meet the carbon dioxide emission goals in the Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions. In addition, Senate Bill 1072, adopted by the 2005 Oregon Legislature, directs Oregon Department of Forestry and other natural resource agencies to develop biomass markets. See the Forest Biomass Working Group Web page for more discussion.
Resources and Publications
Agriculture Biomass Working Group
Forest Biomass Working Group
Urban Biomass Working Group
Members of the OBCG include staff from the Governor’s Office, the Oregon Departments of Agriculture, Economic and Community Development, Energy, Environmental Quality, and Forestry; Oregon State University; Oregon Forest Resources Institute; and the Public Utility Commission.
Working Groups 
As indicated in the chart below, the Oregon Biomass Coordinating Group provides support and oversight for the Agriculture, Forest  and Urban  Biomass Working Groups. These three separate groups focus on specific opportunities, barriers and solutions in the three sectors. The OBCG also will keep the Governor’s Renewable Energy Working Group informed of the status of activities and needs related to biomass development; will provide recommendations for policy-makers; and will identify legislation to increase beneficial biomass use in Oregon. The OBCG will provide a report to the 2007 Oregon Legislature identifying the status of biomass in Oregon including accomplishments, strengths and opportunities.

The Agriculture Biomass Working Group (ABWG) will implement ways to increase the use of agriculture crops or wastes to produce ethanol, methanol, biodiesel (esters of alcohol), direct use fuel, unique feature products, or chemicals. Development of biomass digesters for recovering methane from confined livestock operations will result from this group’s work.
The Forest Biomass Working Group (FBWG) will identify and implement alternatives to burning forest biomass material from logging debris, thinning, and brush removal and from wood products industry waste that can be better used directly for thermal or electric generating fuels, methanol, chemicals or, preferably, value-added secondary wood products.
The Urban Biomass Working Group (UBWG) will identify actions that will accelerate the use of landfill gas, wastewater treatment gas for energy production, and solid waste recovery for recycling, biofuels or energy production.
The Oregon Biomass Coordinating Group’s objectives, as outlined in the Biomass Coordinating Group Charter, are to:
  • Support the urban, forest and agriculture working groups’ efforts to implement biomass goals and objectives by sharing information and resources.
  • Exchange information and facilitate communication among state agencies and universities to accelerate appropriate research and sustainable use of Oregon’s biomass resources.
  • Identify patterns and transferable applications between working groups.
  • Find resources (funding, research, and technical assistance) for biomass work.
  • Reduce duplication and redundancy of efforts.
  • Assist rural communities to implement strategies to develop biomass-based businesses.
  • Identify public and private groups active in developing biomass resources in Oregon, and integrate them with the appropriate working group (urban, forest, agriculture).
  • Identify barriers to a favorable business climate for businesses using biomass resources.
  • Increase understanding of geographically appropriate opportunities for biomass development.
  • Identify state or federal policy and legislation that will help Oregon meet its renewable energy goals.
  • Monitor and encourage biomass technology through research support, demonstration projects and technical assistance.
  • Increase public understanding of the environmental, economic and other benefits of optimized biomass use.
  • Set biomass objectives and goals to be compatible and complimentary to agency policies.