The NC Exports Wood Conference (NCEW), has convened in New Bern, North Carolina with the goal of highlighting the port response to increasing exports and also to explore the challenges, opportunities, and requirements of this industry as it continues to explode in the Southern US.
In the last year, the South has become the largest exporter of wood pellets in the world, and North Carolina has been at the center of that exponential expansion. In order for the growth of this industry to continue, the ports of both Morehead City and Wilmington, NC are planning large port expansions funded in part by our tax dollars. Local residents will be impacted by increased traffic from wood pellet deliveries and other industry-related transportation. The local environment will feel the brunt of the plans to deepen up to 20 miles of the Cape Fear River to accommodate larger ships into the port.
Behind closed doors, the NC Exports Wood Conference has brought together foresters, consultants, economic developers and commissioners, private forest industry executives, USDA representatives, port managers and major investment banks with a goal of expanding all aspects of the bioenergy production and export industry.
Enviva is currently operating two wood pellet mills in North Carolina and plans to build four more in the coming years; impacting a region whose native forests have already been nearly logged to extinction. Enviva is well-represented this week with Edward Sontag, Enviva’s director of fiber procurement. Edward Sontag is presenting today along with other directors participating in the conference.
While economic development is the main justification for ramping up pellet exports from North Carolina and other Southern states, this idea is fundamentally flawed as it doesn’t take into consideration the vastly important services that these, often bottomland hardwood wetland, forests provide.
This week Dogwood Alliance’s Campaign Director, Scot Quaranda, is meeting with EU and UK Members of Parliament, regulators and utilities to educate them about the negative effects posed to the Southern US by the international biomass industry. So far his trip has been very successful with strategic meetings with members of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as well as the Committee on Climate Change where he has been able to present the concerns of over 60 top US scientists and the nearly 20,000 citizens, like yourself, who have signed the Our Forests Aren’t Fuel petition.
While the industry gathers to plot a course for an ill-advised, short-sighted expansion in North Carolina, we will continue to work with our partners in Europe to change the government policy that’s driving the incineration of our Southern forests.
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