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Federal Policy on Thermal Biomass

Updated: June 2018

It is hard to discern any single coherent federal policy towards thermal biomass, but there appears to be growing awareness and support for this energy pathway. Thermal biomass has been a low priority compared to biofuels (particularly ethanol) and biomass to electricity. DOE has programs on both biofuels and biomass to electricity and in 2017 made its first programmatic investment in residential wood heating by becoming the lead sponsor in the Wood Stove Design Challenge.


The EPA plays an important role of regulating emissions from wood appliances and finalized new regulations in 2015. In 2018, the Trump Administration announced they would rewrite parts of that rule. The EPA sees its role to regulate emissions and there is little vision to promote the sector as there is with solar and other initiatives. The agency that has been consistently supportive is the USDA and under it, the Forest Service, which focuses more on industrial and commercial heating systems but also supports advances in residential wood and pellet heating.

At the state level, more and more states are including wood and pellet heaters in their incentive programs, including Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New HampshireNew YorkOregon and Vermont. States are also beginning to explore including thermal biomass into state renewable energy portfolios, with New Hampshire taking the lead in 2012

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