EU Appetite for Wood Pellets Leading to Deforestation in Southern US

At a time when we’re well aware of the benefits of living forest ecosystems, in terms of not only mitigating the effects of air and water pollution, but also in recharging groundwater, storing carbon, serving as wildlife habitat, and perhaps even slowing climate change, it’s kind of silly to think of burning trees for electricity as being ‘clean energy.’

It’s even sillier to cut them down and ship them across the ocean to be used as fuel in power plants, because not only is the exportation of wood pellets to Europe leading to deforestation in the US, but transporting them across the Atlantic adds to the external environmental costs, and their ultimate destiny as a fuel adds to global carbon emissions.

According to the Dogwood Alliance, a loophole in EU clean energy law allows the burning of wood pellets in power plants for electricity generation, as they are considered biomass and therefore a “clean” energy source. This loophole has allowed a massive demand for wood pellets in Europe, which has in turn led to rapid deforestation in the Southern US.

“Despite the fact that deforestation is the third largest cause of carbon pollution just behind cars and power plants, European policy makers are promoting the burning of Southern forests for electricity to meet their “clean energy” targets.” – Dogwood Alliance

As seen on the below infographic, production of wood pellets in the US for export has risen every year, and is predicted to continue to grow, which puts endangered forests and irreplaceable wetlands in the South in peril:

DA_Southern Forests Infographic FIN
Click image for full sized graphic.

To help protect these important forests, Dogwood Alliance has launched a new campaign, called Our Forests Aren’t Fuel, which aims to put pressure on the companies that are involved in burning “forest biomass” in power plants, as well as supporting the transition to other clean energy sources such as wind power and solar power. Through education and activism, this organization wants to get industry, citizens, and policy makers on the same page when it comes to the dangers of this so-called clean energy source.

If you’d like to help take action on behalf of our forests and our climate, add your name to this letter to three of the companies leading the industry in the cutting and burning of Southern forests for electricity – Enviva LP, Dominion Power, and Drax Group.

About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!