Administrator Pruitt Promotes Environmental Stewardship with Forestry Leaders and Students in Georgia

COCHRAN, GA — Today, during a meeting with Georgia forestry leaders, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt discussed the importance of environmental stewardship and announced a new decision on the carbon neutrality of forest biomass.

“Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Managed forests improve air and water quality, while creating valuable jobs and thousands of products that improve our daily lives. This is environmental stewardship in action.”

In the meeting with members of the forestry community, Administrator Pruitt announced the Agency issued a statement of policy making clear, that future regulatory actions on biomass from managed forests will be treated as carbon neutral when used for energy production at stationary sources. The Agency will also be assessing options for incorporating non-forest biomass as carbon neutral into future actions.

The use of biomass from managed forests can bolster domestic energy production, provide jobs to rural communities, and promote environmental stewardship by improving soil and water quality, reducing wildfire risk, and helping to ensure our forests continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere. This policy will provide certainty to rural communities and the forest industry while supporting economic growth.

“Policy uncertainty means uncertain investment in the future of our forests. When policy limits markets, it puts economic pressure on forest owners. That not only threatens jobs, but it also puts our forests at risk, jeopardizing our water, our air and our wildlife,” said CEO of National Alliance of Forest Owners Dave Tenny. “Recognizing that forest biomass in the U.S. provides a carbon neutral source of renewable energy will encourage landowners to replant trees to keep our forests healthy and intact and provide good paying jobs well into the future.”

“Administrator Pruitt’s announcement today reflects the clear scientific consensus on forest biomass,” said President and CEO of Georgia Forestry Association Andres Villegas. “The Agency’s recognition of biomass as a renewable, carbon neutral source of energy will maintain and enhance markets for small-diameter trees, which encourages landowners to invest in forest health, and ultimately, to keep their land in trees.”

Following the meeting, Administrator Pruitt read The Tree Farmer to a group of over 600 students at Bleckley County Elementary School. Utilizing funds from the EPA’s environmental education grants program, the Gully Branch Tree Farm trained Bleckley Elementary faculty in the Project Learning Tree environmental education curriculum. Afterward, Administrator Pruitt, joined by forestry leaders, students, and faculty, planted a tree and discussed the importance of environmental stewardship.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Administrator Pruitt to Bleckley County Elementary School to celebrate Earth Day. Bleckley County has a long history of commitment to educating our children about our environment. This year, our school received a grant to build an outdoor classroom and to expand our school gardens. Administrator Pruitt’s visit will be one of the highlights of this year. Meeting Administrator Pruitt and hearing him speak will help our students understand, even more, the importance of protecting our environment,” said Bleckley County Elementary School Principal Michele Dyal. 

Click here to view the full policy memo on biomass carbon neutrality.

Read the full news release here.