On Earth Day, the one day a year that Americans are reminded to respect and love the earth for all its wildness and splendor, and to be thankful for the clean air, water, and nurturing it provides, Environmental Protection Agency Head Scott Pruitt decided he would push the planet closer to the brink of destruction.
Traveling down to Georgia, where Dogwood Alliance’s Stand4Forest campaign has helped stop communities from adopting biomass in Chatham County, Atlanta and Pine Lake, Pruitt announced that the EPA would declare the burning of all biomass carbon neutral. Despite the fact that the scientific community disagrees, Pruitt took an action that could open the floodgates to new forest destroying biomass utilities to come online across the United States.
Despite the fact that the forests of the Southern US are some of the most biodiverse in the world and provide billions of dollars of vital services like flood protection, carbon storage, and clean drinking water, they have a long history of destruction from those looking to make a profit.
It is clear that Scott Pruitt needs a history lesson.
So in order to give Scott Pruitt and the timber industry a vital reminder of the legacy of forest destruction in the Southern US, we produced a white paper, “A History of Forests in the US South,” which is the first installment of our new Great American Stand series.
Healthy, natural forests support biodiversity, store carbon, and clean our air and water. The older our forests are, the more benefits they can provide. But we lose out on many of these benefits when forests are harvested in just 30-40 years to make lumber, paper, wood pellets or other wood products. In the US South, more than half of our forests are less than 40 old, and many are degraded as a result of constant logging without proper regeneration.
If our forests were left to grow, they could continue storing carbon and removing it from the atmosphere, cleaning air, and providing fresh drinking water. They could house our many native species of plants and wildlife. They could provide recreation opportunities to children and adults alike, and they could protect communities from storms and flooding. We risk all of these benefits by putting forest products before people. Which clearly, Scott Pruitt has chosen to do.
This can and must change, together we will rewrite history! but if Pruitt has his way, things will only get worse.
Take the Stand4Forests Pledge
For a deeper dive: Read our brief: A History of Forests