The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) created by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates the use of second-generation cellulosic ethanol derived from non-food biomass. Unfortunately, the definition of “renewable biomass” in the Energy Bill arbitrarily excludes one of the most abundant sources of fuel feed stock available: waste material from our private and national forests.

I have introduced a bill with Senators Tester, Chambliss, and Crapo to fix the definition of renewable biomass to conform more closely with earlier versions of the RFS and the 2008 Farm Bill. The bipartisan bill we introduced would allow biomass from private forests and pre and post-commercial waste from national forests to be eligible feedstocks under the definition of renewable biomass, which would increase the feedstock supply, strengthen our energy security, create thousands of jobs, and reduce the risk of wildland fire.

The renewable biomass definition in the 2008 Farm Bill includes waste material from national forests, as well as private forest land. By applying the same definition to the new RFS, America’s ethanol producers will be better able to meet the goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022. Without this modified definition, there will be no way to spur the production of renewable biomass from these sources.

This bipartisan bill will use forest waste in a more sustainable manner while improving our environment and our economy. Congress should act on this opportunity to spur alternative fuel growth in a way that is accessible in all regions of the nation.