Southern US Logging Soars to Meet Foreign Biofuel Demand

June 7, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

Flickr-bayou forest-finchlake2000Tanya Dimitrova, Mongabay
Waking Times

In order to meet the European Union’s goal of 20% renewables by 2020, some European utility companies are moving away from coal and replacing it with wood pellet fuel. The idea is simple: trees will regrow and recapture the carbon released in the burning of wood pellets, making the process supposedly carbon-neutral. But just like other simple ideas, it misses out important details that can turn it on its head.

The catch is that the process could be carbon neutral only after the trees regrow to the original size. In the case of cutting 100-year old forest, it would take a century. If the forest is clear-cut, it may never regrow, unless replanted. If the new forest plantation is composed by different or fewer tree species, it will most likely store less carbon than the original forest. Finally, if the forest ecosystem was rich and valuable, as for example a wetland forest, its wildlife may be lost forever.

Cutting old-grown forests, wetland forests and clear-cutting is illegal or highly regulated in most of Europe. In the Southern U.S., however, it is perfectly legal. That is where the large wood pellet producers are staging their operations.

A Maryland-based company Enviva is one of the top five largest pellet producers in the US. Its facilities in North Carolina and Mississippi currently produce and export to Europe more than half a million tons of wood pellets every year. The company plans to triple its output in the next few years to meet ever-increasing demand for wood biomass fuel, mainly from European utilities, but also from U.S. power plants.

Enviva claims that it produces wood pellets only from low-grade wood resources such as chips, bark, sawdust by-products, treetops, branches, and other forestry debris remaining after the tree trunks from commercial forests have been shipped for construction material. These unprocessed residues would most likely otherwise go unused as a resource. Additional biomass sources currently include low-grade wood fiber and small logs.

However, North Carolina private loggers and land-owners interviewed for a Wall Street Journal investigative report last week admitted that trees more than 100 years old, including some from wetlands, do wind up in pellet plants.

“Enviva, now they need wood bad enough that they’re paying for some swamp logging,” one logger said to the WSJ reporter.

The company did not respond to an information request by Mongabay this week.

Scot Quaranda from Dogwood Alliance, and NGO working on protecting Southern forests, explains that there is little to no regulation impacting the management of forests in the Southern U.S.. Unfortunately, 90% of the forests are privately owned and lack legal protection. Most of the management guidelines that are on the books are completely voluntary and do not include limitations to large-scale clear-cutting, conversion of natural forests to plantations, logging of wetlands, use of toxic chemicals, or logging of endangered forests.

That is why Dogwood Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council have launched a new campaign, dubbedOur Forests Aren’t Fuel.

“We focus our work on the marketplace, because in the South, big corporations drive both the destruction and changes in forest practices,” says Quaranda.

The irony is that European utility companies restrict the import of wood pellets to developed countries such as the U.S. exactly in order to avoid illegal logging.

“The US forest sector is well set up and managed, meets our sustainability criteria and the supplies of sustainable biomass are plentiful,” says Melanie Wedgbury from Drax Power—the largest British electrical power generation company.

Last year Drax announced plans to transform itself into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator. The company is converting three of its six generating units to run on 100% biomass instead of coal. According to a BBC report, Drax will be burning seven million tons of plant material a year.

Reference:

Searchinger, Timothy D., et al. “Fixing a critical climate accounting error.” Science 326.5952 (2009): 527.

Please support the important environmental work of Mongabay.com by visiting their site. 

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Activism, Activism Works, Business, Community, Earth, Earth Changes, Environment, Governance, Money, Society, Uncategorized

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. icetrout says:

    Maryland… My Maryland has been destroyed by leftist eco-terrorist… Martin O’Malley is an eco-terrorist pig… not a conservationist…

  2. profnasty says:

    Trees are precious things. Clear-cut areas ought to be carefully replanted with various species, and then faithfully tended. This takes some of the pop(profit) out of logging. Too bad.

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

Open Source Plans for Modern Tesla Free Energy Generator Released to Public

Open Source Plans for Modern Tesla Free Energy Generator Released to Public













Terence Newton, Staff Writer
Waking Times

In a world of problems and solutions, few ideas spur both immediate hope and skepticism as the idea of free energy, and, on the brink of ecological disaster, nothing may be of greater importance to the human race.

The story of Nikola More

April 14, 2014 | By | 13 Replies More
Neuroscientist Exposes Dangers of Electromagnetic Fields

Neuroscientist Exposes Dangers of Electromagnetic Fields













Kevin Samson, Guest
Waking Times

Neuroscience has come under scrutiny for its involvement in an array of mind control initiatives and other ethically questionable research. But at least one neuroscientist from Sweden has gone on record to caution against the increasing dangers of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) on human beings … More

April 14, 2014 | By | Reply More
On the Eve of Construction

On the Eve of Construction













Zen Gardner, Guest
Waking Times

I love the sound of construction. I always have. Not the industrial sound from the kind of massive, offensive structures made with other-worldly looking machines, but the intentional, gentle kind. Small structures going up, improvements on homes, road repairs, even tending to gardens whether … More

April 13, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Are You Inadvertently Investing in Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy?

Are You Inadvertently Investing in Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy?













Brandon Baker, Eco Watch
Waking Times

Monsanto didn’t achieve $11.8 billion in sales and 404 facilities in 66 countries all on its own.

The company is valued at $60 billion in the marketplace with 525 million shares outstanding, but the three largest mutual fund shareholders, Vanguard, Fidelity and State Street, … More

April 10, 2014 | By | Reply More
7 Ways Our Children Are Being Brainwashed

7 Ways Our Children Are Being Brainwashed













Gregg Prescott, M.S., In5D Guest
Waking Times

From birth, virtually all of us have been brainwashed through various outlets that encourage materialism, ego, subservience, control and conformity. But where do the origins of mind control begin and what can we do about it?

1. Religion

As children, the brainwashing begins … More

April 9, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More

Activism Works

The Truth About Fluoride Becoming More Widely Known

The Truth About Fluoride Becoming More Widely Known













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

Fluoride is a poisonous substance added to many municipal water supplies across the US, Canada, and elsewhere without the permission of the residents. Is there a model that communities can follow to remove it from their water supply? The short answer to this question is yesMore

April 1, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
6 Crimes Against Nature Perpetrated By The Food Industry

6 Crimes Against Nature Perpetrated By The Food Industry













Martha Rosenberg, AlterNet
Waking Times

While many procedures on factory farms are cruel, breeding animals into mutants and violating mother/offspring bonds are truly crimes against nature.

The horrors of factory farming are multifold. Treating animals like heads of lettuce—”forget it’s an animal” says one farming magazine—has created institutionalized ruthlessness toward … More

March 28, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More
Our Respective Journeys Into the Valley of Reason

Our Respective Journeys Into the Valley of Reason













Michael T. Winter, Contributor
Waking Times

The Internet awakening has given birth to a worldwide multitude of people that are disengaging from the programmed paradigm created for us, and awakening to the reality of the dangers we face. The web has supplied a platform for writers to take a crack … More

March 26, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
13 Ways Foodies Are Changing The Food Industry

13 Ways Foodies Are Changing The Food Industry













Heather Callaghan & Jeffrey Green, Guests
Waking Times

A major shift in the consciousness of food consumers is forcing the industry into a competitive race to become more natural.  The market is telling food producers that they no longer want so-called factory food because of its many harmful effects on … More

March 25, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
American Agriculture May Eradicate the Monarch Butterfly Unless Swift Action Is Taken

American Agriculture May Eradicate the Monarch Butterfly Unless Swift Action Is Taken













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

You may be aware that bees are dying in large numbers across the globe, courtesy of the ever-increasing presence of toxins in our environment. But did you know that the monarch butterfly is also becoming endangered, and for the same reason?

As reported by the New More

March 22, 2014 | By | Reply More