The woody biomass industry in Georgia is currently receiving taxpayer subsidies from Europe to chop down forests, compress the wood into pellets and ship them across the Atlantic where they are incinerated for energy. Burning forests to fuel power plants is a climate and environmental disaster, but it is considered a carbon-neutral form of “green” energy according to policymakers in the European Union.
How could that be?
The European Union set climate goals back in 2007 for a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020. A great goal! It’s been difficult for most EU countries to meet, and a loophole was put into the goals that allowed biomass to count as if it released no emissions at all. This is clearly false — in fact, wood releases significantly more CO2 pollution than even coal.
Making matters worse, this industry clear-cuts bottomland and coastal hardwood forests and other sensitive ecosystems. They deny these practices, but NC-based group Dogwood Alliance has obtained photographic evidence. And the industry is expanding. Trees cut and processed into pellets for export from the South has increased 7 fold since 2010!
There are two pellet plants and one biomass power plant planned for construction in the Athens area (one each in Jackson, Franklin, and Madison counties).
The EU is reviewing their subsidies and their land-use policy regarding forests and forest products and they may decide to withdraw this money from the industry soon. That means they will likely be seeking subsidies from US taxpayers — money that would come out of your pocket. The Georgia Climate Change Coalition believes that no such money should be granted, and if any taxpayer money is used to fund an energy source, it should be truly green energies only such as wind and solar. GC3 joins a number of other groups opposing subsidies woody biomass energy:
Groups Opposing Subsidies for Woody Biomass Energy
American Forest and Paper Association
American Lung Association
American Cancer Society
Americans for Prosperity
National Resources Defense Council
Partnership for Policy Integrity
Sign Our Petition
Please sign our petition opposing subsidies for this dirty and destructive industry!
Resources for Further Reading
The Great American Stand: US Forests and the Climate Emergency by Dr. William Moomaw and Danna Smith. This report is subtitled “Why the United States needs an aggressive forest protection agenda focused in its own backyard.”
The Environmental Impact of the Use of Biomass for Power and Heat from Chatham House.
Burning wood for energy ignites fierce academic row, BBC reports on the recent controversy sparked by Chatham House’s above assessment of biomass energy.