Texas Forestry and Bioenergy - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/18/07 - Nacogdoches

Texas Forestry and Bioenergy

by Donna McCollum

So why are forest industry giant Temple Inland and newcomer Nacogdoches Power at odds? Perhaps because no one really knows the long term affects bioenergy will have on the forestry market.  " The devil is in the details as to how you define wood waste," commented Temple Inland Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Tony Bennett.

Wood waste can be anything from harvesting debris left on the forest floor to wood chips. Legislation passed this week will pave the way to study those definitions. Meanwhile, the wood products industry is wanting to protect the energy source that they use in their own mills. Bennett said,  " There's a strong market for that fuel and any disruption of that market or any redirection of that fuel under a subsidy program to an electrical plant is going to be devastating to jobs in East Texas, in our opinion."

Such predictions concern the foresters who attended a conference on the topic in Nacogdoches.  Battles over subsidies or incentives as called by economic developers create questions. That sends politicians looking for answers.

Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples said,  " We need to understand the issues, define the issues so that we remove the ambiguity and result in something positive for all Texans."

Energy alternatives are necessary as oil and gas climb in price, but establishing a plan that works for existing and new industry is a challenge. Staples serves the role of the negotiator.   "I see the debate as healthy. I think it needs to happen. We need to have all stakeholder at the table to make this work right."

Another bill is needed to get Nacogdoches Power off the ground. Certainly the healthy debate will continue.  Late Thursday night the stalled bill got a jump start.  The author, Representative Wayne Christian of Center said it is out committee and could soon be headed to the Senate for debate.    

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