The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has issued a draft permit for Enviva to construct an enormous new wood pellet plant in Epes, Alabama. This is the first of four wood pellet facilities that Enviva hopes to build in Alabama.
If built, this plant would produce 1.2 million tons of wood pellets per year and would require nearly 80 acres of forests to be cut down per day, turned into wood pellets, and shipped overseas to be burned for electricity in Europe and Asia. It would be a huge emitter of greenhouse gases and other toxins that would threaten our climate and the local community’s health.
Alabama organizations know that their state will not benefit by allowing Enviva to build these facilities. In North Carolina, where Enviva operates four wood pellet facilities, NC Governor Roy Cooper recently delivered harsh criticism of the industry in the state’s Clean Energy Plan.
Alabama has an opportunity to stop this industry before it is too late.
Local organizations concerned about Enviva’s proposed facility recently sent a letter to local residents warning them of the negative impacts of this industry.
Enviva is planning to build a 1.2 million ton per year wood pellet production plant in Epes, Alabama. As Alabama-based organizations working to protect the health and natural resources of our state and its residents, we are concerned about the negative impacts of this industry.
Enviva is the world’s largest wood pellet producer, and they’re based in the Washington DC area. The company has been constructing wood pellet facilities across the region to feed the demands of the biomass industry. Here’s what that means: Tens of thousands of acres of forests will be chopped down every year, turned into pellets at Enviva’s polluting facility, and then exported by boat overseas.
If you’ve already heard about Enviva, you’ve probably only heard its side of the story — the one about coming here to save and uplift the Black Belt. The truth is that Enviva is part of the same story that has played out in Alabama for decades. Our communities have been exploited by a system that does not work for us. The Black Belt has been targeted by extractive industries (absentee landowners) that have harmed our communities and polluted our water resources . What was once forest will be shipped out of Pascagoula as far as the UK and Japan to be burned in power stations. European commitments to 20% renewable energy use by 2020 placed biomass on the renewables list. This has incentivized increased logging for wood pellet export in the southeast. Wood pellets made from whole bottomland hardwood trees, when burned, will emit carbon pollution comparable to, or in excess of, fossil fuels such as coal for approximately five decades.
We’ll get the dust, the noise, the truck traffic, loss of native plants, trees, and wildlife habitat, and water pollution — but we’ll hardly reap in the benefits. Enviva’s wood pellet plants bring air pollution, 24/7 noise, and truck traffic that tears up local roads. The dust and pollution from this type of facility has been linked to respiratory illness, heart disease, and cancer. In North Carolina, Enviva was the subject of a lawsuit brought by concerned citizens for violating the Clean Air Act. Outside industries profit, while we are left with pollution, illness, and declining real estate values.
Time and again, these industries come in with the irresistible promise of jobs and wealth. If industrial logging were a way to pull people out of poverty, Alabama would already be the wealthiest place on earth because we have some of the highest logging rates in the country. But the reality is that Alabama is the 6th poorest state in the nation. There has to be a better way.
Enviva has a history of not being a good neighbor. To reap the benefits while leaving the community with the burden is an injustice. We care about you as our neighbor and the state of Alabama as our home.
We are strong supporters of economic development and bringing in jobs that support our local communities. But our communities do not benefit from the destruction of our forests and the pollution of our people. We want economic development that is clean, healthy, and protects people and the environment.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management will be holding a public hearing to hear comments regarding the facility. The public hearing will be held on November 7, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. at the Livingston Civic Center on 101 Country Club Rd in Livingston, AL. An informal information session will be held immediately prior to the hearing from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information, contact Michael Hansen at [email protected] or at (205) 701-4277.
If you cannot attend in person, you can submit a public comment by November 8th to Ronald W. Gore, by email at airm[email protected], or to PO Box 301463, Montgomery, AL 36110.