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Two Things the Dogwood Alliance Doesn’t Want You to Know about Its Wood Pellet Study

August 10, 2015
Author: Suz-Anne Kinney

The Dogwood Alliance recently commissioned a study, Wood Pellet Manufacturing: Risks for the Economy of the US South, to uncover the myriad ways that the wood pellet industry will hobble the economy in the US South. The study itself, however, falls short of proving the definitive declarations that the Dogwood Alliance has been making about the study in the press (here). Here are two things they fail to mention:Pellet_facility_with_wood_yard

  1. The report’s conclusions are largely conditional. They include (emphasis added):
    • Switching fuel to biomass pellets imported from the US South may increase rather than reduce greenhouse gas emissions—an effect opposite the one intended.
    • Possible declines in forest health due to whole-tree harvesting, and relatively more forestland in plantations could harm timber productivity and broader ecosystem service values.
    • Loss of amenity and increased industrialization of rural landscapes could limit the attractiveness of the region as a location for new residents and businesses.
    • Expansion of biomass pellet manufacturing in the US Coastal South will raise timber prices in the short term and could change industry structure for decades to come.
    • Pellet manufacturing will increase at the expense of lumber, panel and paper manufacturing, in which job creation is typically stronger than it may be in pellets.
  2. The report concludes by minimizing the scope of the risks to the South’s economy: “We do not wish to overstate the case: these individual cautions are primarily about marginal or incremental, rather than wholesale, changes in forest productivity, availability of ecosystem services and economic opportunity in a range of sectors.”


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