Communities in the US South are no stranger to extractive industries that put profit over the health and prosperity of the people. We know too well the familiar story of corporations and politicians promising economic development and community care, but delivering low-paying jobs, environmental disasters and health consequences that reverberate for decades.
Southerners also know the power of community action. From the oil rigs of the Gulf South to the hog waste lagoons of North Carolina, I have seen Southern residents coming together to protect their health, heritage and way of life.
Now, I’m calling on you to stand up for our Southern forests and communities.
Stopping the destructive biomass industry is going to to be accomplished with grassroots power, and it will take all of us.
The wood pellet industry is disrupting the quality of life, health, environment and safety of residents across the South. In Eastern North Carolina, Jane Thornton and Deborah Kornegay dread the completion of the Enviva plant, whose industrial-scale logging and production of wood pellets is putting their rural community at risk. In an area where most of the residents make their living by farming, the threat of logging on air and water quality, flood plain protection and erosion is deeply felt. Additionally, the increased truck traffic from the facilities is clogging up the roads, damaging publicly funded roadways and posing a serious safety concern to local commuters.
In Northampton County, NC and other communities across the South, the constant noise, at all hours, of wood pellet facilities disrupts the sleep of residents and quiet character of rural towns. The wood dust and fine particulate matter created in the production of wood pellets is leading to respiratory problems, creating a mess and disrupting residents living near the facilities. In just 2 hours spent at one of Enviva’s wood pellet facilities, I personally experienced the irritation caused by wood dust in my eyes and lungs.
It is unacceptable that the wood pellet industry continues to profit from the suffering of people.
Furthermore, this industry is being fueled by massive subsidies and incentives, all at the expense of local taxpayers. What few jobs the industry provides come at the expense of the forests, air, and water of communities.
Development that destroys the environment and health of the people is not development.
Once more, it is up to us to take a stand to ensure our basic rights are maintained for generations to come.
Stopping this industry will take the action and support of people across the US. Passing an anti-biomass resolution, ordinance or moratorium will send a strong message to industry executives and policymakers that we stand united in demanding a clean and sustainable future.
The dirty biomass industry is not the future for our Southern communities or forests. We need long-term solutions that value the health and prosperity of people and the environment. And it is our right to demand this from policymakers and industry leaders. With organizing and action, we can pave the way for a future that puts the needs of the people before corporate profit and values our forests for the myriad of life-supporting services they provide just by standing. Our Southern communities and forests are not resources that can be taken advantage of for the personal gain of greedy industries. They are vital components of a vibrant global community and ecosystem, and we must take action to make sure they continue to be so.