So, my biomass fact finding mission to the US is coming to a close. Here are ten things that I learned while I was here:

  1. Community members in the Southeastern USA are very concerned about the wildlife, climate and health impacts of the wood pellet industry and its mills.
  2. The bottomland hardwood and wetland forests of the Southeast are rich in birds and wildlife, from bald eagles to belted kingfishers.
  3. The destruction and clearcutting, that Dogwood Alliance have managed to trace to Enviva, a company that supplies power stations in the UK, is worse than I had imagined.
  4. The stacks of whole trees at the pellet mills are huge. This wood is turned into pellets, shipped to the UK and EU and burned, all under the guise of renewable energy.
  5. If five people share one car for six days straight you get to know each other pretty well.
  6. Local NGOs in this part of the USA are very concerned about the impacts EU renewable energy policies are having on their forests.
  7. Politicians and their staff in Washington DC are becoming aware of the issue and are keen to learn from us how to avoid the same mistakes as the EU, as they consider their own use of biomass for energy in the USA.
  8. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Adivsory Board does not accept the recommendation of a biomass panel that biomass should be rated as carbon neutral, and came out with this statement on almost the day we landed. Rejecting carbon neutrality is in line with the vast majority of the scientific evidence.
  9. The media in the USA are becoming increasingly interested in the issue of bioenergy, both the potential growth of a domestic industry and the growing export of wood pellets to European power stations.
  10. An alliance of European, British and American NGOs can work together as friends and colleagues and demonstrate the risks and impacts of this industry, and we have a chance of stopping the worst kinds of biomass from being used, and these amazing forests from every being cut down.