USDA Urges Netherlands to Subsidize Forest Destruction for Biomass in the US
Position Runs Counter to President Biden’s Climate, Environmental Justice, and Forest Commitments
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) held an Agribusiness Trade Mission in the Netherlands. A group the USDA welcomed is the United States Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA). They represent the interests of some of the largest forest destroyers in the US.
This partnership’s advocacy for biomass export expansion goes against President Biden’s policies. It is counter to his Executive Orders on climate, environmental justice, and forests. It provides cover for the dirty biomass industry. An industry that is facing growing controversy in the Netherlands. The Dutch Parliament passed a resolution to stop subsidizing untruthful wood pellet companies.
The Southern United States is global ground zero for wood pellet biomass production.
This is a region where 90% of the forests are privately-owned. Yet people of color own less than 5%. The wood pellet industry has rapidly expanded over the last ten years. A vast majority of its facilities are in environmental justice designated communities. Several facilities were even fined for emitting toxic pollutants far above legal limits.
Rita Frost, Campaigns Director at Dogwood Alliance said,
“The extractive wood pellet industry destroys forests and pollutes communities. It’s not the type of agriculture that the USDA should support. Additionally, burning forests for electricity releases more carbon than coal. So the agency keeps supporting an industry that’s harming our climate.”
A community in the South always suffers the consequences when a biomass export facility opens.
These communities are almost always majority-Black and often under-resourced. They don’t have the resources to fight polluting industries. Yet, USDA promotes biomass as climate-friendly energy for overseas markets. They encourage the industry’s expansion.
The USDA should not be in the business of helping this industry find new customers.
The Biden Administration must stop using tax dollars to support this industry. Instead, the Biden administration should promote and advance policies that protect forests. They should champion community solutions to the climate crisis.