Study: As biomass energy gains traction, southern US forests feel the burn

This article discusses burning biomass for energy. It is a horrible solution that makes climate change worse.

  • An estimated 50 to 80 percent of southern wetland forest is now gone, and that which remains provides ecosystem services totaling $500 billion as well as important wildlife habitat. Logging is considered one of the biggest threats to the 35 million acres of remaining wetland forest in the southern U.S., and conservation organizations are saying this threat is coming largely from the wood pellet biomass industry.
  • Touted as a renewable energy source, research shows wood pellets release more carbon dioxide than coal per megawatt of electricity produced and industry critics worry that incentivizing this energy source could actually be accelerating climate change.
  • Experts argue that biomass energy effectively acts as a loophole for countries to under-report their carbon emissions and give a false impression of meeting Paris Agreement objectives. Research indicates pellet production plants also have a negative impact on air and water quality.
  • But industry proponents say biomass energy is an important component of mitigating climate change and that regulations will ensure its sustainability.

Stretching across the southeastern U.S., wetland forests provide ecosystem services totaling $500 billion, according to a 2018 report by environmental watchdog group Dogwood Alliance. Today, America’s natural wetland forests exist in pockets, covering just a fraction of their former range.

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