Bill Walzer, Berkeley

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker writes that the “current level of forest activities probably isn’t enough to supply biomass facilities with an economically viable flow of fuel from high-hazard areas and is insufficient to meet forest management needs within those same fire-prone regions.”

Pessimism about using biomass from cleaning up fuelwood in our forests may be too narrowly focused. I am sure the author is correct that the economics are not there for collecting and transporting the waste wood.

However, that may well change if you include in the calculation the $760 million in the budget for last year’s fire response, plus the billions of private losses and health damage. Cutting these losses in half would justify a lot of biomass collection and generation. Then the government has a role to match biomass facility needs to meet forest management needs.

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