Thursday, July 31, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Planned wood pellet export facility in southern US threatens forests and communities

Opinion: Proposed Port Facility Would Have Negative Impact On Environment

By Scot Quaranda, posted Jul 28, 2014
The battle over the proposal at the Port of Wilmington to allow Enviva to open a wood pellet storage facility expands well beyond the boundaries of the port. While the facility itself will create increased truck traffic, noise, and dust pollution for those living near the port, the real damages will reverberate across the Carolinas.
Should the project move forward, this expansion would allow Enviva to open three new wood pellet manufacturing facilities that will produce over 1.5 million tons of pellets per year. The proposed locations for the facilities are Faison, NC (Sampson County), Hamlet, NC (Richmond County) and Clinton, SC (Laurens County).
Essentially, our forests are being clearcut to be shipped overseas for Europeans to burn for electricity. In the rush to reduce carbon pollution and end dependence on coal burning power plants, some countries in the EU, led by the UK, have embraced burning wood for electricity over true renewables like wind, solar and geothermal.  This despite the fact that the latest science says that burning wood produces more carbon pollution in the short term than even burning coal or natural gas.
The wood pellet industry has a destructive impact on forests, local communities, and our climate. Tens of thousands of acres will be clearcut to feed the voracious appetite of these mills, leading to the loss of wildlife habitat, critical bottomland hardwood wetland forests that protect our coastal communities from flooding and provide clean drinking water, and destroying our best defense against the impact of climate change.
Additionally, the loss of forests impacts the quality of life for local communities which use these forests to hunt, fish, hike, and to find spiritual renewal. The three towns where the new wood pellet mills are expected to be built will face the same increased truck traffic, noise and dust pollution faced by residents adjacent to the Port of Wilmington.
In early July, the North Carolina State Ports Authority issued a permit for Enviva's proposed expansion despite over 6500 comments from citizens calling on them to deny the request and to fully consider the impacts beyond the gates of the facility. As part of its statement in issuing the permit, the State Ports Authority chose not to consider impacts beyond the facility because that would have to be covered in the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permit.
Unsurprisingly, once again the state and Enviva are at it again and North Carolina forests and communities will suffer. The Division of Coastal Management failed to include impacts on forests as part of its draft application issued last week, prioritizing the health and well-being of one company over that of the citizens of North Carolina.
CAMA's purpose is to preserve North Carolina's coastal environment and ensure that development is consistent with conservation of the coast's natural resources.  Under CAMA, a project's impact on ecologically sensitive areas across the coastal plain must be fully evaluated and the project must be consistent with the preservation of coastal resources. The CAMA application fails to consider ecological impacts on the coast at all.
The DCM must not approve this application without fully assessing the impact of Enviva's forestry operations and pellet manufacturing. We hope that the DCM will do the job that the NC State Ports Authority failed to do and deny this permit for the benefit of not only the people of Wilmington, but the entire state of North Carolina.

Scot Quaranda is the communications director at Dogwood Alliance, an environmental organization based in Asheville whose mission is "to increase protection for millions of acres of Southern forests by transforming the way corporations, landowners and communities value them for their climate, wildlife and water benefits."


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