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Washington governor signs biomass bill

LONGVIEW, Washington (From The Daily News) -- After some delay, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Tuesday that will allow KapStone's Longview mill to profit from selling biomass renewable energy credits. KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp. stands to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars annually under the legislation.

Originally Inslee had been scheduled to sign the bill last week, but his office pushed it back for further review. The governor had previously vetoed a similar bill last year out of a concern that it would allow biomass energy to out-compete other renewable energies, such as wind and solar power.

However, this year's version of the bill was narrower in scope and did not receive the same opposition from environmental groups. Sponsored by Longview Senator Dean Takko, the bill passed the Senate unanimously and glided through the House, 91-7.

"I would have preferred last years' (version of the bill), but I think this was a reasonable compromise," Takko said Monday.

"What I hope is that it shows that there's an interest in it and an incentive (for) other places that want to upgrade and increase their capacity," Takko said.

Previously only mills with biomass facilities constructed after 1999 could sell renewable energy credits. That excluded mills like KapStone, which has boilers and furnaces dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. Takko's bill amends the law so that any facility that made significant upgrades to biomass plants after Jan. 1, 2010, could sell renewable energy credits.

Proponents argued the legislation would encourage other mills to boost their use of biomass, which is considered a carbon-neutral form of energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

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