May 13, 2016

Wyden Applauds USDA Award for Oregon Biomass Innovation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today applauded the decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to award a groundbreaking Oregon project with funding to continue its innovative work using wood waste for renewable energy.

The Oregon Torrefaction Project will convert forest wastes to a low-carbon product that can be used to heat and power homes and businesses. Processing in John Day will create access to rural jobs and reduce transportation costs. 

"Thanks to community efforts that responsibly tripled the harvest from the Malheur National Forest, there’s a huge increase in the amount of biomass available,” Wyden said. “This project addresses several local industry and community needs by building new markets for wood wastes from forest health restoration and wildfire risk reduction, all while creating good-paying jobs in the woods."

Wyden has long been a supporter of collaborative efforts on the Malheur National Forest, including advocacy for collaborative forestry landscape restoration funding and a 10-year stewardship contract.

He has also encouraged production of sustainable, low-carbon biomass energy to heat and power homes and businesses, while reducing the risk of wildfires and creating jobs in rural areas. Wyden introduced the BioEnergy Act last year to encourage new technologies in biomass production.

The project is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Endowment, Bonneville Environmental Foundation and private entities including Ochoco Lumber and Portland General Electric.

"We are excited to work with our partners on the ground, including the local collaboratives and the Forest Service, to build markets that can enhance forest restoration activities,” said Matt Krumenauer, Project Manager for Oregon Torrefaction. “Projects like ours not only help build resiliency in the forest, they support family wage jobs and the health of our rural communities."