* Note – High quality video and photos from the press conference and action will be available at www.dogwoodalliance.org or by e-mailing [email protected]
Scot Quaranda, Dogwood Alliance, 828.242.3596, [email protected]
Citizens Rally Against Increased Export of Wood Pellets from Southern Forests to Fuel Power Plants in Europe
Virginia Landowner, Conservationists and Community Leaders Send SOS Plea to UK Government to Stop Destroying Southern Forests for Fuel
Portsmouth, Virginia – This morning Dogwood Alliance, Virginia landowner and Hollywood Director, Ron Maxwell, and local community leaders spoke at a press conference to draw attention to the growing citizen opposition to the unchecked growth of the wood pellet export industry in Virginia and across the Southern United States. Meanwhile, right next door, the world’s largest wood pellet manufacturer, Enviva, which operates a wood pellet export terminal in Chesapeake, attended the Mid-Atlantic Forest Products Export conference to plan for further expansion of wood pellet exports.
Following the press conference, speakers and local community activists boarded a boat at 1pm with a banner reading “SOS – Save Our Southern Forests”, with a plan to disrupt a scheduled conference tour of Enviva’s Port of Chesapeake export terminal. Additionally, thousands of Southerners sent emails to UK Department of Energy and Climate Change head, Ed Davey, calling on him to end subsidies going to the utilities that are importing and burning wood pellets made from destroyed Southern forests.
“Companies like Enviva are destroying our Southern forests for the benefit of big power companies in the UK and across Europe” said Adam Macon, Campaign Director at Dogwood Alliance. “The accelerating destruction of forests is disrupting the critical services forests provide such as wildlife habitat, clean drinking water and protection against storms, while also threatening the quality of life and the long-term economic viability of our coastal communities and existing forest-dependent businesses. We urge Mr. Davey to acknowledge growing citizen concern, embrace the warnings of his own scientists and stop subsidizing the burning of our forests for electricity.”
The Southern U.S. is currently the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets, mostly to Europe, where they are burned for electricity. Massive government subsidies from the Green Investment Bank in the UK and from the European Union have bolstered this industry despite a growing body of scientific evidence showing that burning wood for electricity may do greater harm to the climate.
A recent report from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has shown that burning wood from logged forests in the US South, shipping it thousands of miles across the Atlantic and burning it to generate electricity releases more greenhouse gases than coal in many cases. Leading scientists believe that climate change and its associated impacts are expected to hit coastal communities the hardest. Despite this growing body of evidence, the wood pellet industry and European utilities, with massive support from the government, continue to expand the logging, export and burning of wood from Southern forests, impacting ecosystems and communities across the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
“As a Virginia landowner with a great love for the forests and cultural heritage of our region, I am dismayed at the huge tax subsidies going to support the plunder of America’s forests to supply energy to the UK and other foreign countries,” said Ron Maxwell, Director of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. “I stand here today with local communities and environmental leaders urging policy makers here at home and in Europe to stop subsidizing the destruction and burning of America’s forests to keep the lights on in London.”
The rapid expansion of the wood pellet industry has taken many local communities by surprise as state and local governments extend large tax breaks and subsidies to wood pellet site facilities in their towns. This has led to a disruption of quality of life including increased truck traffic, noise, dust and risk of fire. Residents of Garysburg, North Carolina, who had an Enviva wood pellet mill built in their community, were on hand to speak about the impact this had.
“Enviva came into our community and built their pellet mill without consideration of local residents and has greatly disrupted our quality of life,” said Belinda Joyner, resident of Garysburg, North Carolina. “In addition to noise, dust, and increased traffic on our roads, we are concerned about the impact to our forests and drinking water. It’s time policy makers in Europe understand the extent to which Enviva and its wood export business is harming the people and forests of the US South.”
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About Dogwood Alliance
Dogwood Alliance is increasing protection for millions of acres of Southern forests by transforming the way corporations, landowners and communities value them for their climate, wildlife and water benefits. Dogwood Alliance has revolutionized the environmental practices of some of the world’s largest corporations. For more information on the organization please visit www.dogwoodalliance.org or follow on Twitter @DogwoodAlliance.