Gov. Promotes Biomass, Drill-Free Roadless Areas Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a plan to increase biomass production July 13. He also called on the federal government to reinstate the prohibition on drilling for oil and gas and other development activities in roadless areas of the national forest in California. "Biofuels and bioenergy will help California cut pollution, cut down on fossil-fuel use, improve air quality, and fight climate change," the governor said. "This is another perfect example of a healthy environment and a healthy economy going hand in hand." A plan to promote biomass and bioenergy, developed by Schwarzenegger's task force, supports his executive order seeking that 20 percent of the state's power be from renewable resources by 2010, as well as his greenhouse gas reduction goals. The plan seeks to bring into the mainstream biomass and bioenergy development. For electricity, that would entail burning forest, agricultural, and municipal waste to create heat to turn turbines. That waste and other plant matter could also be converted chemically into gas for fuel. "Our state is a biomass gold mine with tremendous resources," said the governor. Under the governor's Bioenergy Action Plan, the California Energy Commission will coordinate the various agencies - from the California Public Utilities Commission to the California Air Board - involved in the development of alternative fuels. The CPUC is given the task of developing incentives and mechanisms to advance biomass projects. State regulators are also to consider transporting biomass electricity and "consolidated metering opportunities" at sites that convert burning waste into power, noted Joe Desmond, deputy secretary of energy. "The governor seeks to establish California as a market leader in bioenergy products," Desmond stated. Earlier in the week, the governor took the Bush administration to task for repealing the national Roadless Area Conservation Rule and opening up road-free areas of the forest to development. Schwarzenegger petitioned the federal government to protect 4.4 million road-free acres in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Cleveland, and Los Padres National Forests. Schwarzenegger also reiterated his objections to federal legislation that weakens the prohibition on offshore drilling. "Our coast is not for sale, and no amount of promises of money or other 'incentives' will alter my positions on that," he wrote in a July 12 letter. He urged a shift in the debate on energy issues away from drilling and toward "the full range of energy efficiency measures and alternative energy."