Udall: bills push renewable energy uses for Colorado’s dead trees | AspenTimes.com

Udall: bills push renewable energy uses for Colorado’s dead trees

Ivan Moreno
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado Congressman Mark Udall said Thursday he wants to prevent wildfires triggered by the mountain pine beetle epidemic by clearing forests of dead trees and using the wood for renewable energy.

The Democrat said one of two bills he introduced this week will encourage the use of the dead trees to create wood pellets and cellulosic ethanol. To do that, Udall said, language in the new energy bill that just passed would have to be amended so the definition of biomass includes the rotted trees.

The other bill he introduced would provide incentives to encourage communities to plan to prevent wildfires. A third bill to be introduced next week would make it easier to remove dead trees from forests by removing “regulatory challenges,” such as environmental analyses for projects in affected areas, Udall said.

“The bills address the aftermath of the beetles,” he said.

Earlier this month, U.S. and state Forest Service officials said mountain pine beetles will kill most of Colorado’s lodgepole pine trees within five years. Officials said the dead trees could increase wildfire danger and threaten state water supplies.

Udall also said the dead trees could hurt the state’s tourism industry.

The mountain pine beetle infestation was first detected in 1996. Forest Service officials said the epidemic grew by half a million acres last year, bringing the total number of acres affected to 1.5 million.

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