Legislation that would have made it potentially more attractive to produce electricity from biomass, such as forest slash from tree thinning projects, faltered in the just concluded legislative session in Santa Fe.
Senate Bill 204 would have amended New Mexico's Renewable Energy Act by allowing Renewable Energy Certificates to include electricity derived from biomass materials.
The bill, spearheaded by Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, had been supported by the Ruidoso area's recently formed Little Bear Forest Reform Coalition.
The coalition was told the measure would help make timber from forest thinning projects a viable product.
The measure was approved by the full state Senate Friday but never made it beyond its first House committee.
The legislative session concluded Saturday at noon.
In a last ditch effort Friday evening, Little Bear Forest Reform Coalition Chair Mary Weaver urged the group's members to email House representatives asking them to please vote yes for SB 204.
"They just need to know that New Mexicans support this legislation," she said.
The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department wrote that the measure could provide a market-based incentive to implement hazardous fuel reduction projects, such as forest thinning, within communities at risk of catastrophic wildfire.
"These incentives could assist with a struggling forest products industry and create a value-added product from waste materials," the department's analysis stated. "Currently, the woody biomass left over from hazardous fuel reduction projects lead to accumulation of fuel that can exacerbate wildfires and attract insects and diseases that negatively affect forest health in New Mexico's forests.
"If this bill is enacted, more projects might be conducted and more acres might be treated, ultimately resulting in communities that are more easily protected from wildfires."
But the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission raised a pollution concern over the bill.
Commission staff noted state law defines renewable energy as electricity generated by means of a low or zero air emissions process.
Much of the state's renewable energy currently comes from wind or solar sources.
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