“Right now, instead of being part of the solution to our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, biomass from federal lands is allowed to build up in the woods or, worse, become fuel for catastrophic fires,” Wyden said in testimony Wednesday before a Senate subcommittee. “Instead of being part of the path to energy independence, biomass on federal lands is creating a problem for forest management and communities that border on federal forests.”

The bill would also offer for the thinning of unhealthy, second-growth forests, and providing low-carbon fuels to address climate change. The programs would create new jobs, which would facilitate timber counties suffering from high unemployment.

“We’re thrilled that the Senate is looking to break the logjam,” Douglas County Commissioner Joe Laurance said.

Laurance said he thinks the measure will obtain support in the Senate. He said he’s more concerned with the House of Representatives, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposed previous efforts to permit the use of biomass for fuel production on federal forests.

The National Association of Counties, at Laurance’s urging, recently passed a resolution supporting the utilization of biomass from the forests. He said he anticipates that support will help in persuading lawmakers to support Wyden’s bill.