The use of biomass will be exempt from the Obama administration’s new greenhouse gas regulations for three years, U.S. EPA announced last week, giving the agency more time to address concerns that permitting requirements could chill investment in an emerging form of renewable energy.

The decision responds to criticism from the biomass industry, which has claimed that the energy source is not contributing to climate change because it is part of a natural, carbon-neutral cycle. When new plants are grown, the argument goes, they absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide that the other plants had released when they were burned.

In a statement issued last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson gave a nod to biomass as a form of “clean energy.” The sentiment was echoed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who said the decision would create jobs and promote energy independence.

“We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy,” Jackson said. “In the coming years we will develop a common-sense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy. Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change.”

Read more from Gabriel Nelson of Greenwire.