Andrew George: Wood burning more harmful than coal

August 23, 2013 

Burning wood harmful

I read with great interest the Aug. 18 news article “Useless wood, converted into cash” about the growing wood pellet industry in North Carolina.

However, I reject the wood pellet manufacturer Enviva’s claim that burning trees emits less carbon than traditional coal. There is a growing literature of peer-reviewed scientific papers proving that burning wood in power plants is more harmful to the climate than burning fossil fuels. In fact, a thorough life-cycle analysis of pellet manufacturing shows this industry will contribute more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere per unit of energy than coal!

Wood-pellet interests want to intensify large-scale industrial clear-cutting of our remaining unpaved native forests to support an unsustainable energy policy, when conservation – of forests and energy – could actually work. Real alternatives to fossil fuels – such as conservation, solar and wind – deserve the real green title.

Why these more serious “conservationist claims” were neglected is troubling. The data do not lie.

Andrew George, Chapel Hill

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