The Potential Role of Bioenergy in Mitigating Wildfire in the West
Record wildfire seasons continue across the US West, increasingly comprised of unnatural and catastrophic events owing to climate change, excessive fuel accumulation and development within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). The comprehensive costs of these wildfires are staggering, when considering costs of suppression, property and ecosystem degradation, carbon emissions, human health impacts, infrastructure damage including water, and numerous other direct and indirect effects. To contain these costs, excess fuels must be removed to restore wildfire-resilient landscapes and to protect vulnerable communities. Fuel treatments, in turn, entail significant costs, potentially combined with carbon emissions if wood waste is left to burn or decompose. An oft-proposed solution is the development of wood waste markets including biofuels, potentially combined with carbon capture technologies. To develop biofuels markets at the scale needed to address the growing wildfire problem in the West, a complete system must be designed including economic incentives recognizing multiple public values, and policies to stabilize supply sources and ensure adequate workforce development.
Matt Donegan - President, Donegan Advisors LLC
Matt Donegan has over thirty years of senior-level experience in the forest, climate change and wildfire sectors. He currently serves as senior advisor to the Yale Carbon Containment Lab among other public and private entities. Matt previously served as co-founder and co-president of Forest Capital Partners, one of the largest and most successful forest investment firms in the world. Matt recently chaired the Oregon Wildfire Council, which developed the state’s first comprehensive wildfire strategy. His previous policy experience includes the National Alliance of Forest Owners (founding chair); the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (director); the National Park Conservation Association (national council); the Energy Futures Initiative (advisor); the Oregon Global Warming Commission (founding member); the Oregon State Board of Higher Education (chair); and the Oregon Innovation Council (founding member) among other private and public boards and commissions. Matt earned a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Florida, where he served as chair of the Society of American Foresters and was a member of the Forestry Honor Society. He earned an MBA with concentrations in Forestry and Finance from the University of Tennessee, and is currently completing a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies at Reed College