Western North Carolina Landslides
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Enviva, a biomass manufacturer, went public in the spring of 2015.
Prior to its IPO, Enviva touted its wood pellet product as cleaner-than-coal energy but that statement was only a sale's tool. Presently the company's customers are foreign energy utilities who are receiving government subsidies to buy and burn wood pellets rather than coal. Investors and clients are learning that the burning of wood pellets is not beneficial to the environment. In fact biomass as an energy source is a critical air pollutant, producing 50% more CO2 than coal.
It isn't just make believe environmental statements that should give investors and clients reason for doubt. Enviva's timbering practices were criticized by The Wall Street Journal a few years ago. The newspaper questioned the company's source of wood. Enviva's spokesmen had reported that the bulk of their wood was purchased from sawmills and pine tree plantations. Contrary to Envivaspeak the company's primary source of wood is southern forests. Wood pellet mills, including Enviva's are located in southern states and are growing in number. Stand outside these production facilities and watch the entering trucks bring large hardwood trees to the grinder. Enviva and its competitors are devastating southern woodlands to produce greenhouse toxins for foreign entities. In June The Washington Post raised the same red flags as The Wall Street Journal concerning Enviva's forestry practices and far fetched energy claims.
For the truth of biomass manufacturing please google Enviva images. One of the photos taken by the WSJ shows an eighty-one acre tract along the Roanoke River in North Carolina that was clear cut by Enviva operators. It is not known how many trees it takes to make 1.74 million metric tons a year but that is Enviva's advertised processing capacity. When biomass loggers work a forest site it is razed to bare dirt. There are reasonable concerns regarding Enviva's forest removal techniques. Experts warn that Enviva's denuded landscapes will raise the risks of flooding and erosion events.
One would not expect Enviva's owners to need public money to expand their business but the costs of the Enviva Pellets Northhampton facility was underwritten by various federal, state, and local agencies including the Economic Development Administration , North Carolina Department of Commerce, Golden Leaf Foundation, and the North Carolina Rural Center. Enviva's owners, Riverstone Holdings, LLC , a $20 billion private equity fund, was the beneficiary of these public funds. In addition to those sweeteners Enviva received $ 1.7 million in North Carolina tax rewards.
Carbon dioxide levels reached a never-achieved point in March according to NOAA and exceeded 400 ppm for an entire month. The trees being pelletized by Enviva and other biomass manufacturers were pulling massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. Now these pellets are contributing to the earth's warming.