This is to comment on the March 6 response letter in the Herald from Pete Maysmith at Conservation Colorado to Sen. Ellen Roberts’ Feb. 17 column on Senate Bill 7. Both the letter and the column mainly dealt with Conservation Colorado’s “flimsy” opposition to SB 7. Summing up, Roberts has the greater knowledge on the bill’s topic: biochar.
Maysmith did not report in his letter that the bill was amended at its Feb. 11 hearing to only apply to biochar. The bill still has strong support from the Colorado Renewable Energy Society. I also testified for passage, representing three regional, U.S. and international biochar organizations. Retired after 40 years of renewable energy work, I still work full time on both renewable energy and biochar policy development. Contradicting Conservation Colorado testimony, I strongly believe that Colorado’s renewable energy goals will be helped, not harmed, by state-assisted accelerated biochar implementation. Important are additional biochar-related benefits that would justify “multipliers” for such as fire safety, air-water-soil quality improvement, jobs, export product development, etc.
SB 7 passed in committee 7-2 and then the full Senate by good bipartisan majorities – despite Conservation Colorado’s entirely non-biochar contentions. Unfortunately on March 9, Conservation Colorado prevailed in a House committee, winning a 7-6 kill partisan vote. SB 7 would have done none of the harm Conservation Colorado has claimed and would have been passed without the organization’s opposition.
Colorado is a global leader in biochar development, having hosted the first U.S. biochar conference in 2009. I estimate the biochar industry’s growth doubling time is less than two years – not bad for a technology that received its name only in 2007. CRES, myself and many others are working with party leaders to write and pass a biochar support bill still this year. Commendably, Conservation Colorado says it now wishes to be involved.
My sincere thanks to Roberts for the many hours she devoted to this important topic of biochar. To learn more about biochar, visit www.biochar-international.org.
Ronal W. Larson