Thousands of Comments Submitted Calling for an End to Burning Forests for Fuel as European Commissioners Prepare Final Policy for Full Review
Asheville, NC – In late March, US conservationists were joined by a delegation of European environmental leaders on a fact finding mission to see firsthand the impact of European biomass energy policy on the forests of the Southern United States. After receiving a tip from a local Roanoke River watchdog group, the group visited an active industrial logging operation in a wetland forest near the river.
Upon further investigation, they discovered that the destroyed wetland forests were bound for Enviva’s Ahoskie, NC wood pellet mill where they were being made into wood pellets to be shipped to Europe and burned for electricity.
“For many of my European colleagues this was simply a matter of flawed policy that needed to be fixed. Once the moment of shock kicked in at witnessing the destruction of a precious wetland forest in our region the urgency to fix this skyrocketed,” said Adam Macon, Campaign Director at Dogwood Alliance. “Misguided policies in Europe have led to hundreds of thousands of acres of native forests in our region being chopped down and shipped overseas to be burned for electricity and we are calling on the European Commission to end the destruction of our environment and communities.”
Yesterday was the final day for public and organizational comments to be submitted for consideration to the European Commission as part of it public engagement period on their Bioenergy Sustainability Policy. The final policy will be released later in 2016 and is expected to be debated by and voted on by the European Parliament in 2017.
During the public engagement period, the European Commission received an unprecedented number of responses from individuals and organizations in the United States that are concerned about the impact biomass electricity has on the climate, communities and forests of their country.
The original policy, announced in 2010, was primarily driven by flawed science that assumed that burning of wood for electricity was carbon neutral. A multitude of recent scientific studies have disproved this assumption. Even showing that in many cases burning wood for electricity actually releases more carbon than coal, meaning we are increasing rather than limiting carbon emissions by burning wood.
“The European Commission developing a new Bioenergy Sustainability Policy is a clear indication that it is tempering its full steam ahead approach to biomass,” continued Macon. “This has also sent a clear message to investors that as the science develops and the policy changes this is a risky investment.”
At the center of the biomass controversy has been Enviva, the world’s largest wood pellet manufacturer with operations in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Mississippi. Multiple investigations of the company have uncovered Enviva sourcing whole trees from coastal wetland forests in Virginia and North Carolina for its wood pellets. The most recent wetland logging investigation once again caught Enviva red-handed. Despite claims to the contrary, Enviva continues to have devastating impacts on native forests in North Carolina and Virginia.
To view a slideshow of the wetland forest logging investigation visit here.
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Based in Asheville, NC, Dogwood Alliance (www.dogwoodalliance.org) is the only nonprofit focused on protecting Southern and the communities that rely on them. The organization has been responsible for helping companies including Staples, McDonalds, and KFC transform their paper-buying policies, and it has also worked with the paper industry to develop new, sustainable forest management practices. The group’s Our Forests Aren’t Fuel is part of an international coalition opposing industrial-scale forest biomass energy.