Wood Pellet Maker Declares Bankruptcy

Last Week, A Major Wood Pellet Maker Filed For Bankruptcy

Enviva, the corporate behemoth with plants manufacturing wood pellets for burning as fuel, has declared bankruptcy. 

Enviva is the world’s largest manufacturer of wood pellets for fuel, operating plants across the South, including four in North Carolina—all located near poor, rural communities of color. Its declaration of bankruptcy reflected its admitted acquisition of more debt than it could pay, although one opponent said it also represented Enviva’s history of “greenwashing tactics and lack of transparency” catching up to it

Writing for NC Newsline, environmental reporter Lisa Sorg said, “Enviva purports to be a ‘sustainable’ and ‘renewable’ global energy company specializing in producing wood pellets for fuel. In truth, it cuts forests, including hardwoods, which releases carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into the air. The company then grinds the trees into pellets at its factories, polluting nearby communities.” Most of the pellets it manufactures are shipped to be burned in Europe.

A Win For Environmental Justice Advocates

Supporters of the industry categorize wood pellets as a carbon neutral source of fuel, yet wood pellets actually burn dirtier than coal. Additionally, polluters don’t calculate all steps in the process–such as harvesting and shipping–to accurately estimate the emissions from the industry. Thus, global and local environmental advocates continue to stress the harm of the wood pellet industry.

Environmental justice advocates also critique the industry. Research shows the industry harms American forests, and threatens the health of low-income communities in which the plants are located. Plants across the south, like the one in Northampton County, are located in low-income and majority African American communities. Read more about the harm these plants cause to North Carolinians.

Opponents including the NAACP and the Dogwood Alliance have fought Enviva’s expansion plans in North Carolina communities. Enviva operates North Carolina plants at Garysburg (Northampton County), Ahoskie (Hertford County), Hamlet (Richmond County), and Faison (Sampson County). The plants continue to operate, with the company’s ultimate fate still uncertain.

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