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Forest

16:01, 17/09/2021
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A clearcut site located near the Meherrin River in North Carolina which devastated an area of mature wetland forest, as well as nearly 100 acres of surrounding natural forest. Investigators tracked whole trees from the cut directly lớn the Enviva Southampton facility in Virginia. 

Dogwood Alliance, January 2018


An environmental disaster is underway across the southeastern United States as trees are cut down from forests và turned inlớn millions of tons of wood pellets lớn be exported and burned as fuel in European power plants. So-called biomass energy damages our climate và air, our forests, and our communities while the industry hides behind veils of misinformation.

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When energy companies burn trees khổng lồ make electriđô thị, the result is increased climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions, devastated ecosystems, & displaced wildlife. Forests are one of our best tools for fighting climate change & one of our best defenses against its impact. They’re also where we hike, camp, hunt, và fish. Forests enhance our quality of life & our well-being—benefits that disappear when giant wood pellet manufacturers lượt thích Enviva contribute to forest destruction by sourcing wood from clearcut forests.

TruthBurning forest biomass increases carbon pollution. Myth

To proactively address congressional directives and stakeholder concerns specific khổng lồ the use of forest biomass for energy, EPA’s policy in forthcoming regulatory actions will be to treat biogenic CO2 emissions resulting from the combustion of biomass from managed forests at stationary sources for energy production as carbon neutral.”—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy memo, April 23, 2018

Reason

Despite claims by the Trump administration và some in Congress, burning forest biomass for electriđô thị is not “carbon neutral.” (Carbon neutral essentially means it results in no net increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.) Leading scientists tell us that when biomass is removed from forests and burned for electricity, the result is an increase in carbon dioxide that persists in the atmosphere for decades, even under the best case scenario in which new trees are replanted immediately. That doesn’t even include additional emissions associated with harvesting, chipping, drying, preparing, & shipping the wood pellets.

TruthPer unit of energy, biomass results in higher emissions than coal. Myth

“The wood pellets Enviva supplies for energy generation are a sustainable, renewable alternative to coal and other fossil fuels.”—Enviva, Modern Bioenergy webpage

Reason

For years, scientists have sầu warned that burning trees to produce electriđô thị worsens climate change in the same way as coal và other fossil fuels vị. Because wood is a less energy-dense fuel, biomass-burning plants emit more CO2 from their smokestacks than coal khổng lồ generate the same amount of electrithành phố. And cutting older trees & replacing them with saplings reduces a forest’s carbon storage for decades or more (và only if those forests are allowed to lớn regrow và not converted khổng lồ plantations).

Even when power plants burn forestry residues—the leftovers from logging operations—the result is more CO2 in the atmosphere for decades. This is incompatible with the urgent need to lớn cut emissions lớn limit the damage from global warming.

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TruthThe biomass industry’s wood sourcing practices are unsustainable & contribute to lớn forest degradation.Myth

“Enviva produces wood pellets in the region using an array of sustainable practices that protect environmentally sensitive areas & conserve sầu working forests.”—Enviva, “Working with Forests Responsibly/Healthy và growing” webpage

Reason

Burning wood for electriđô thị degrades forests & threatens wildlife. NGO investigations—together with independent reporting from news organizations around the world—have sầu exposed the unsustainable logging practices used khổng lồ source wood for pellets manufactured và exported by Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets for use as fuel. These investigations show the destructive reality of biomass sourcing in the southeastern United States, including from clearcuts of mature hardwood forests. They likewise spotlight the vast quantities of the most carbon-intensive types of biomass, including whole trees, entering the industry’s supply chain.

Enviva is a top supplier lớn the U.K. power producer Drax and other large power companies in Europe. In order lớn satisfy their massive demand for wood fuel, regions like the southeast have sầu ramped up pellet production. Meeting the production capacity of four of Enviva’s wood-pellet facilities in North Carolina & Virginia requires logging almost 50,000 acres of forest per year.

TruthBiomass companies rely on an industry-dominated certification scheme khổng lồ “greenwash” their practices as environmentally friendly.Myth

“The Sustainable Biomass Program’s (SBP) vision is an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable woody biomass supply chain that contributes lớn a low-carbon economy.... SBP.. certification provides assurance that woody biomass is supplied from legal and sustainable sources.”—Drax, Sustainable Biomass Program webpage

Reason

The main certifier of “sustainable” wood pellets used by Enviva & its top customers, such as Drax, is the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP). From the start, this certification scheme was dominated by industry and built using a self-policing approach that has resulted in increased carbon emissions, accelerated loss of natural forests, and harm to local communities. It amounts to lớn little more than a smoke screen for forest destruction, as detailed in our report about the SBP’s deep flaws và deficiencies.

The biomass industry also poses serious environmental justice risks for the communities in which it operates. Enviva locates its wood pellet mills in poor, rural areas in North Carolina, Virginia, và the Gulf Coast states. These are communities that already live sầu in a region enduring some of the highest logging rates in the world. They also suffer some of the highest poverty rates in the nation & face the threat of escalating flooding from climate change.