Since the fuel crisis in the 1970’s, the Pacific Northwest region has been investigating the use of plant matter and biotic wastes to produce energy. However, within the last five years, the investigations have reached an unprecedented level of interest and support. Governments, private industries, and academics have partnered together to show that there are many ways of producing energy from these biological sources. In many ways, these processes are superior to using fossil fuels as energy because they are able to be harvested continuously or annually. Unlike fossil fuels, many of these sources are able to be rapidly regenerated, and therefore represent an attractive alternative. However, no one process has been shown overwhelmingly to be environmentally superior, financially competitive, and producible on a large enough scale to completely replace the need for fossil fuels in the short run. Biomass energy is not likely a panacea for the U.S. energy woes, our changing economic base, or our worries about the environment, however, with carefully crafted policies, they can represent a step in the right direction for the environmental, positive economic opportunity for many, especially in rural communities, and a source of minor alleviation on the already overburdened world-wide demand for energy.

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