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NC environmental justice board to discuss wood pellet industry

A truck carrying logs to a wood pellet facility
Impacted Communities Against Wood Pellets Coalition
A logging truck enters the Enviva plant at Ahoskie, in Hertford County.

North Carolina's environmental justice advisory board has called a special meeting Thursday night in Raleigh to discuss concerns about the fast-growing wood pellet industry.

The meeting comes as Enviva, the world's largest wood pellet maker, awaits state approval to expand its pellet plant in Ahoskie, in eastern North Carolina's Hertford County. Enviva has four plants in eastern and central North Carolina that process wood cut from local forests and ship it to Europe, where it's burned at power plants.

The Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board requested the meeting in a September letter to state environmental secretary Elizabeth Biser. Board members told Biser in the letter that they had concerns about how the industry affects North Carolina’s environment and economy.

In particular, the board said the industry:

  • Has a "deleterious impact" communities with large non-white populations and high poverty around the plants.
  • Seeks to increase production and "deplete valuable forest resources."
  • Does not contribute to the state’s goal of increasing renewable and other clean energy production.

At Thursday's meeting, the board plans to take public comments about the industry. More information is on the board website at NCDEQ.gov.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.