While early in the process [March 2022], this fact sheet is meant to provide stakeholders a snapshot of the effort to date and expectations of what is to come.
The Department of Conservation received a $50M budget allocation in the FY21-22 budget – to be made available in July 2022 – focused on creating carbon-negative hydrogen and/or liquid fuel from forest biomass coming from forest vegetation management. Funding awards will be made to sites located within the Sierra Nevada. The impetus behind this program is to address serious and significant issues of forest health and wildfire risk in the Sierra Nevada, as well as to provide a model for sustainable rural economic opportunity. The rates and severity of catastrophic wildfire have been growing throughout the Sierra, costing lives and damaging habitat, watershed health, financial resources, homes, and communities. Further, the impact of wildfire smoke has been felt around the state, worsening air quality in many areas that can least afford it. This pilot program focuses on the Sierra with the hopes of addressing these high-profile needs.
Projects funded under this program are expected to be fully supported by the communities that (will) host them, sponsored by project proponents, local governments, tribes, and community advocates. While the program is not closed to any particular stakeholders or industries, community support and participation in the proposed project is mandatory, and community leadership is encouraged.
These funds will be offered through a competitive solicitation; the DOC is working to offer this solicitation in 2022, consistent with the dire need for forest management and wildfire risk mitigation. The DOC is working closely with sibling agencies, boards, departments, and commissions – including federal agencies – with aligned interest.
Program Timeline and Public Input:
These funds will be offered as a competitive solicitation. Following the RFI Workshop and Tribal outreach, the DOC will develop the draft solicitation and make this available for public review. This is expected to occur in late May 2022. The public comment window will be 30 days, after which the DOC will respond to public comments and incorporate edits as appropriate. The final solicitation is expected to be made live in July/August.
Summary of public input opportunities:
- Public RFI workshop (April 5, 2022);
- Tribal RFI workshop (open to tribal citizens and representatives only; April 7, 2022);
- Draft solicitation review (estimated May-June 2022); and
- Project development and CEQA process (on the schedule of each individual project).
Carbon Negative Biofuels:
The 21-22 budget language prescribed the development of carbon-negative liquid fuels or hydrogen as a product of projects funded under this program. The term “carbon negative” means that less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses (CO2 equivalent, or CO2e) are emitted to the air in the development of these biofuels than are sequestered or avoided by the process.
The DOC anticipates that the geologic sequestration of CO2 (often identified as “carbon capture and sequestration,” or CCS) coming from biofuels development is likely to be a pathway to reach carbon negativity, and hopes to hear more at the RFI workshop about other proposed pathways to reach permanent, verifiable carbon negativity.
Download the Program Fact Sheet as a PDF document