Forest Protection

Forests Not Fuel - Statement to the Press, Mar 25, 2015

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Good morning, I am Haywood Martin, Chair of Sierra Club in Louisiana. I am here because I am concerned about destruction of native forests in the southeast and in Louisiana.

Misdirected renewable energy policies both here in the US and in Europe treat biomass, including the burning of trees, as renewable energy just like solar and wind. With billions of dollars of government subsidies available, major European utility companies have been converting coal burning power plants to wood, even though there is mounting scientific evidence that burning trees for electricity releases more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal. In a rush to find much-needed alternatives to fossil fuels, any evidence that burning wood might not make economic sense and that it is destroying forests, has been largely ignored.

Europe is currently at the forefront of this rush to burn. They are running power plants previously fueled with coal by importing large quantities of wood from the US. This has led to an explosion of new facilities here in the South that are turning our forests into wood pellets and exporting them across the Atlantic. Currently, the Southern US is the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets. Wood pellet exports to Europe from the South are in the millions of tons per year and are increasing as new facilities come on line. We’ve seen aggressive logging in native forests in NC and Virginia, and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen here in Louisiana.

Louisiana and Mississippi Forests Being Razed to Make Electricity in Europe

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Traveling highway I-10 over the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge may have noticed two huge white golf ball looking structures at Port Allen, just to the north on the west side of the river crossing. While they do add something to the drab industrial view of refineries, cranes and barges, they foretell a bleak future for southeastern forests. The structures will store up to 80,000 metric tons of wood pellets manufactured by Drax Biomass that will come from Louisiana and Mississippi harvested forests. The wood pellets are destined to be shipped to Europe for burning for generation of electricity. It is eerily appropriate that the company name is the same as Drax the Destroyer, a fictional superhero character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Environmental Groups file protest to proposed BLM leases for fracking in the Kisatchie National Forest

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Louisiana Audubon Council, Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club and seven other environmental organizations have submitted a protest to the Bureau of Land Management’s planned offering of sixty-six lease parcels at the September 13, 2012 oil and gas lease sale. The parcels are publicly owned lands in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana, and areas where the federal government owns minerals beneath private lands within the boundaries of the Bienville and Homochitto National Forests in Mississippi.

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