Salas Champions Biomass Bill to Improve Air Quality & Produce Renewable Energy

AB 322 will direct more funding to innovative, new bioenergy projects in California

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) passed Assembly Bill (AB) 322, which directs the California Energy Commission to prioritize more funding for new bioenergy projects under the Electricity Program Investment Charge (EPIC), which invests in scientific and technological research to advance the electrical grid and make it stable and renewable.

 

“With California facing catastrophic wildfires and increased burning of agricultural waste, we need every tool to help us reduce waste, clean the air and produce renewable energy,” said Assemblymember Salas. “With the passage of AB 322, we are helping fund the technology of the future that will allow us to take waste out of our communities and turn it into reliable power.

 

According to the California Board of Forestry’s 2020 Biomass Utilization Plan, investments in the EPIC program is needed to reduce open burning, wildfire hazards, harmful emissions, and to increase benefits to local energy supplies, grid resilience, and economic development in forested and agricultural communities.

 

Additionally, in the San Joaquin Valley, open burning of agricultural waste has increased 400 percent over the past five years, which has lasting and disproportionate health impacts on disadvantaged communities. In February 2021, the Air Resources Board adopted a plan to phase out the open burning of agricultural waste and the plan calls specifically for increased public investment in new bioenergy facilities as a much cleaner, healthier alternative to open burning.

 

“Investing in advanced technology biomass conversion will help California meet its climate and air quality goals by investing in advanced technologies that convert waste biomass to clean, renewable energy,” said Julia Levin, Executive Director of the Bioenergy Association of California. “We thank Assemblymember Salas for authoring this bill and look forward to seeing the next generation of bioenergy projects.

 

AB 322 passed with bipartisan support and will now head to the Governor’s Desk.