Biomass & Social Justice

The Enviva plant in Northampton county, North Carolina. Photograph: SELC

Questions about biomass are not new, but increasingly urgent as a social justice issue as well as an ecological one:

Biomass is promoted as a carbon neutral fuel. But is burning wood a step in the wrong direction?

Many scientists and environmental campaigners question the industry’s claims to offer a clean, renewable energy source that the planet desperately needs

Thick dust has been filling the air and settling on homes in Debra David’s neighborhood of Hamlet, North Carolina, ever since a wood pellet plant started operating nearby in 2019.

The 64-year-old said the pollution is badly affecting the health of the population, which has already been hit hard by Covid.

“More people are having breathing problems and asthma problems than ever before,” David said. She started suffering from asthma for the first time two years ago and other people in Hamlet have been getting nosebleeds, which she also puts down to the dust.

“The older people have it the worst,” she added. “They stay inside most of the time and when they do come out they struggle to breathe. They can’t sit out in their yards like they used to.”

The plant, owned by Maryland-headquartered Enviva, the world’s largest biomass producer, is one of four the company operates in North Carolina, turning trees into wood pellets, most of which are exported to the UK, Europe and Japan to burn for energy…

Read the whole story here.

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