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Biomass Fuel Not The Carbon Neutral Choice Promised

An Enviva wood pellet plant in Northampton, N.C.
Courtesy of Enviva

Burning wood pellets as a form of energy has been a growing trend since 2009 when the European Union deemed it carbon neutral and began to subsidize the conversion to this “greener” form of energy.

But scientists are increasingly warning that cutting down forests for wood pellet production is a net loss for the environment. Journalist Carson Vaughan looked into Enviva, one of the leaders in the biomass industry who operates three of its seven mills in rural North Carolina. His reporting outlines the environmental impact of deforestation, the health effects on the poverty-stricken towns that house the mills, and the growing backlash to the use of wood pellets. Host Frank Stasio talks with Vaughan about his article “The Loophole: How American forests fuel the EU’s appetite for ‘green’ energy” featured in the Food and Environment Reporting Network. Vaughan’s latest book is “Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream”(Little A/2019).

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