FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 8, 2018
Enviva and the Wood Pellet Industry Under Scrutiny in North Carolina
Richmond County Public Hearing First Opportunity for Local Residents to Challenge a Pellet Mill in the State; Community Members Want Real Economic Opportunities, Clean Air, and Protection of Their Quality of Life, Not More Destruction
Hamlet, North Carolina – This evening, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) will hold a public hearing to take comments on the proposed expansion of Enviva’s pellet mill in Richmond County. This is the first in a series of expansions that Enviva plans to make at their NC facilities.
Enviva has applied for a modification to their construction permit at the Hamlet facility to increase production by nearly 100,000 tons of wood pellets annually. This significant expansion would require an additional 2,000 acres of forest per year to be cut down to meet Enviva’s demand, bringing the facility total to 15,000 acres per year. 40 environmental and social justice organizations in the state have signed onto a letter urging DAQ to modify Enviva’s permit to reduce production levels and require Enviva to install the pollution controls that the community deserves.
“Enviva has not even finished construction at their Richmond County plant, yet they are already applying to increase production,” said Emily Zucchino of Dogwood Alliance. “The wood pellet industry has been allowed to grow unchecked in North Carolina. We cannot make that mistake again.”
Enviva’s Hamlet facility has a particularly troubling history, with several flawed permits and a denial of the community to participate in a public hearing and comment period during the permitting process for this highly controversial facility. This public hearing represents the first opportunity for North Carolinians to make their voices heard.
A recent report by Environmental Integrity Project shows a shocking pattern of air quality violations or noncompliance at the majority of wood pellet facilities across the South, with Enviva’s North Carolina facilities being the most egregious. The Maryland-based company has attempted to assuage community concerns by including the installation of pollution controls in addition to their proposed expansion. However, emissions testing at Enviva’s facilities show that the facility would still be emitting above the legal limit, which is why environmental groups and community members are calling on DAQ to require Enviva to reduce production levels.
“My community does not benefit from the destruction of our forests and the pollution of our people,” said Debra David, co-chair of Concerned Citizens of Richmond County. “We want economic development solutions that are clean, healthy, and protect the people and the environment.”
The urgency of the climate crisis, which was underscored by a major international report released in October by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, demands that we dramatically scale up forest protection. Burning trees for electricity is worse for the climate than burning coal, and yet industry is exporting North Carolina’s forests and burning their climate and community benefits up in smoke — at a time when we need forests and wetlands more than ever to protect us from flooding and storms like Hurricane Florence.
Recently, Governor Cooper reaffirmed his commitment to the Paris Agreement by signing Executive Order 80, which sets forth aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a bold vision for addressing climate change in the state. Increasing forest protection is an essential component of meeting climate goals, and allowing the wood pellet industry to expand in the state stands in direct contradiction with the Governor’s order.
“Time and again, Enviva has mislead the public, government, and investors on their emissions and sourcing practices — repeatedly putting profit over people,” continued Zucchino. “The company’s past actions and missteps make it all the more imperative that they are strongly scrutinized at every step of the way.”
For a brief legal background on Enviva’s permit application, visit: https://media.dogwoodalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Legal-backgrounder-Enviva-Hamlet-expansion-1.pdf
For more information on the public hearing, visit: https://deq.nc.gov/news/press-releases/2018/10/09/public-hearing-draft-permit-enviva-pellets-hamlet-facility-nov-8
For more on the wood pellet industry’s damaging practices, visit: https://stopenviva.com/
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Dogwood Alliance mobilizes diverse voices to defend the unique forests and communities of the Southern U.S. from destruction by industrial forestry. Learn more at www.dogwoodalliance.org or on Twitter – @DogwoodAlliance
Concerned Citizens of Richmond County, based in Hamlet, NC, is a local environmental justice group that is an advocate for clean air and water in Richmond County. The group is a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL). Learn more here.