Murkowski Expresses Support for Biomass Energy Development at Coast Guard Facilities in Southeast Alaska

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today announced that she has sent letters to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Tom Tidwell urging that they continue their efforts to bring biomass wood energy usage to Coast Guard facilities in Southeast Alaska.

The Coast Guard is actively working to identify renewable energy opportunities in the wake of last year's high oil prices. In their search, the Coast Guard has identified biomass as a fuel source for facility heating in Southeast Alaska.

“While I understand this initiative is still in its initial planning and conceptual stages, I urge you to continue to push forward and to aggressively seek a solution that would provide a sustainable path for reducing Southeast Alaska communities’ demand for heating oil,” wrote Murkowski, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Coast Guard sites in Ketchikan, Sitka, Kodiak and elsewhere have the potential to implement Renewable Fuels Heating Plants. These plants would burn biomass fuels from forest stewardship contracts managed by the USDA and USFS, waste wood products from lumber mills and possibly recycled paper products collected in Southeast Alaska communities. If fully developed, these biomass projects would create jobs, improve forest stewardship, reduce the use of petroleum based products for heating and promote a new industry in Alaska which generates fewer greenhouse gases related global climate change.

This initiative “to bring biomass heating to Federal facilities, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Bases in Ketchikan, Sitka and Kodiak, along with State and local facilities in this region – could not only serve to lower carbon dioxide emissions that result from burning heating oil, but also create new jobs in the wood harvest, restoration and related support industries” wrote Murkowski.

In her letters, Murkowski stressed to both officials that she is committed to assisting both agencies to complete their study and bring to Southeast Alaska an energy alternative that will benefit not only the Coast Guard but also have a positive impact on the environment and the energy needs of the nation.

“As the ranking Republican Member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am committed to not only continuing to increase the research and development of alternative energy sources but also to supporting any project that creates and sustains jobs, both for Alaska and the nation,” wrote Murkowski.

Murkowski asked that both the USDA and the USFS provide her with routine updates on how the project is proceeding.

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