Biomass is Worth Public Investment

In January Michigan oil interests testified before the Michigan House Energy and Technology Committee on a trio of bills to promote enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which employs various extraction technologies to draw the last bit of oil from a reservoir. It’s the tough-to-get-at stuff conventional drilling leaves behind.

Additional oil extraction would contribute to energy independence, Michigan jobs and better economics.

Biomass does all these things, too.

According to the Dept. of Treasury, these so-called “stripper wells” in FY 2013 produced 2 million barrels (27% of total net production) and generated $10.5 million in severance tax revenues. Michigan could produce more oil from these marginal wells – up to 200 million barrels over their lifetime – if the extraction costs were lower, like lowering the severance tax on that oil. HB 4885 would cut it in half.

Biomass is Michigan-made domestic energy. It creates Michigan jobs and supports rural economies and the local tax base. It relies on “leftovers” like forest residuals and wood scraps from diverse and distributed sources, which can be tough-to-get-at stuff.

We’ve been doing it for 30 years, without subsidies or other specific public investment. And because wood is a renewable resource, we’ll never leave because the well ran dry.

That’s a pretty good deal for Michiganders and warrants support in state energy policy.