From: BIOMASS Magazine, by Erin Voegele
The U.S. Forest Service has released eligibility criteria for Indian tribes and Alaska tribal organizations that want to develop demonstration projects to promote biomass energy production under 2017 amendments made to the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004.
A notice published in the Federal Register on March 27 explains that the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017 amends the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 to direct the USDA to enter into contracts or agreements with Indian tribes, and, in Alaska, tribal organizations to carry out demonstration projects to promote biomass energy production on Indian forest land and in nearby communities by providing reliable supplies of woody biomass from federal lands.
The USDA is required to enter contracts with Indian tribes to carry out at least four new demonstration projects each fiscal year from fiscal year 2017 through 2021. These projects are expected to promote biomass energy production on Indian forest land and in nearby communities by providing reliable supplies of wood biomass from federal land. The types of eligible energy production include biofuel, heat and electricity generation. The USDA is also required to enter four contracts per year for such projects with Alaska tribal organizations over the same 2017-2021 period.
The notice explains the legislation includes eligibility criteria that Indian tribes or tribal organizations are required to address in their application to enter into biomass demonstration projects. Under the Act, the USDA was required to make eligibility criteria for the projects publicly available within 120 days of the legislation’s enactment date. According to the notice, the Act also contains selection criteria that will be used by the agency to evaluate the applications submitted.
This selection criteria include determining whether a project would increase the available of local or regional energy; enhance the economic development of the Indian tribe; improve the connection of electric power transmission facilities serving the Indian tribe; improve the forest health or watersheds of federal or Indian lands; demonstrate new investments in infrastructure; and otherwise promote the use of wood biomass; but exclude from consideration any merchantable logs.
Additional information is available on the Federal Register website.