Wood Pellet Industry Giant on Verge of Financial Collapse

A potential financial turn for the wood pellet industry in North Carolina.

For years, forest conservationists, climate advocates, and environmental justice activists have condemned the industry of producing wood pellets for burning in power generation. Now, the biggest global player in that industry is reported to be on the verge of financial collapse.

Enviva, the Virginia-based corporation with multiple production sites in North Carolina, has released a third-quarter loss report of $85 million. In a statement, Enviva said its financial situation from collapsing prices, debt, and “operational challenges” combine to “raise substantial doubt regarding the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Naturally, the company said it planned to continue its expansion plans and come charging back to profitability, even while its stock trading price dropped to below $1/share. But financial struggle is not new for them. State and local governments have highly subsidized the industry over the last few decades. North Carolina alone has spent $7 million taxpayer dollars since 2007 to help the struggling industry.

The wood pellet industry threatens North Carolinians

Furthermore, 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.

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