From remarks by Carol Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, at a White House briefing yesterday:

What is biomass? I think as its name implies, it's organic, it's trees, it's crops, it's agriculture, it's forestry waste, [which] can all be used to fuel a car, heat a home, power industry, replace traditional chemicals.

These materials can also be used to create new kinds of products -- inks, paints, packing materials -- that will decay when they are disposed of, rather than pollute the earth for centuries to come.

Quite simply, biomass is to the next century what petroleum was to this century. It is the next generation of fuels and chemicals.

. . . By moving towards fuels produced by renewable and cleaner-burning biomass, we are recognizing that not all of our energy needs lie under the earth in wells and in mines. We are recognizing that our farmlands, our forests can produce supertankers worth of cleaner-burning fuels that will help stem the release of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Consider this: By the year 2020, it is estimated that the ethanol produced from biomass -- and this is not the ethanol that we produce today from the kernels of corn but rather ethanol that will be produced from the entire corn plant, other types of plants -- this biomass . . . could replace 348 million barrels of imported oil. That means American farmers will have produced the equivalent of 158 foreign supertankers of energy.