In 2013, we launched the Our Forests Aren’t Fuel (OFAF) campaign in partnership with our allies at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). OFAF educates the public and policymakers about the true nature of the biomass wood pellet industry. We work with international partners and frontline communities who suffer the impacts of this industry. Together, our campaign will stop this industry’s destruction of our forests, communities, and climate and help move the world towards a just, equitable, and truly clean energy future.
About Enviva, the Largest Wood Pellet Company In The World
Maryland-based Enviva is the largest wood pellet manufacturer in the world. Enviva’s wood pellet plants are scattered all across the Southeast, usually in designated environmental justice communities. Enviva’s biomass energy is mostly used to replace fossil fuels at power stations. They clear the forests around their plants, turn them into tiny wood pellets, and then ship them overseas to be burned for energy in Europe and Asia. Our Southern US forests and communities suffer as a result. Enviva claims that the energy wood pellets create when burned is renewable and “green.” The truth is that the biomass industry emits more carbon at the smokestack than coal. It increases pollution that harms local communities’ health and economy. It degrades irreplaceable, natural forests.
Enviva operates multiple wood pellet production facilities and has even more proposed and prospective biomass industry facilities. Enviva produces over 5.25 million tons of wood pellets every year, affecting 350 acres per day. These forests are destroyed exclusively to fill contracts to overseas power plants interested in burning trees. Enviva is the largest wood pellet manufacturer in the world and plans to double their capacity in future years. Their entire business model relies on “renewable energy” subsidies, which come from taxpayer dollars, even though the biomass industry is all a big greenwash.
Enviva would not exist in its current form without international renewable energy subsidies that utilities receive in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Asia. Countries around the world are seeking alternatives to fossil fuels, so they’re incentivizing utilities to use “renewable” forms of energy. Unfortunately, they include biomass as a “renewable” energy option because trees eventually grow back. These countries aren’t considering, though, how biomass endangers ecosystems and emits carbon that remains in the atmosphere for centuries. The best use of trees to fight climate change is to simply leave them standing.
Drax, The Largest Wood Pellet Consumer
Drax is not only a wood pellet producer, but it is the largest consumer of wood pellets to create biomass electricity in the world. Based in the United Kingdom, Drax received £2.36 million in subsidies every single day in 2019. Drax is burning the equivalent of more than the UK’s entire annual wood production, but it can’t even meet 1% of the country’s total energy demand. In a whole year, UK taxpayers are providing Drax more than £1 billion to cut down precious forests overseas, ship them back to the UK, and burn them to keep the lights on. The demand for wood pellets that these subsidies creates accelerates climate change, contributes to forest degradation, and is destroying the habitats of many at-risk animals.
In 2018, Channel 4’s Dispatches aired a hard-hitting investigative report exposing the destruction behind the UK’s move to replace coal with wood fuel. The journalists uncovered that in parts of the Southern US, unique hardwood forests that are massive storehouses of carbon are clearcut, manufactured into wood pellets, and loaded on ships destined for Drax’s boilers. Other investigative journalists have repeatedly shown this same pattern.
Where Do The Carbon Emissions From Wood Pellets Go?
The EU and the UK, and more and more countries in Asia like South Korea and Japan, are not completely accounting for carbon losses in forests when trees are cut down to be burned for energy. Additionally, the method of accounting differs from country to country. The result is massive quantities of “missing emissions” because importing countries, like the UK, EU member states, South Korea, and Japan, all pretend that emissions from their wood pellet burning don’t exist.
As more people speak out against biomass, pressure builds for policymakers to pull their heads out of the sand, acknowledge the mistake they’ve made, and correct their course.
Our Forests Aren’t Fuel – What You Can Do
With the ever-increasing threat of Enviva and the wood pellet industry, we must unite to protect our climate, communities, and forests. Let the world know that Our Forests Aren’t Fuel by taking action: