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Lawsuit in Europe Could Protect Virginia Forests

Kent Roberson, a North Carolina man who joined the lawsuit

The European Union has been paying countries to stop burning coal and, instead, use renewable forms of energy – solar, wind and wood or “biomass.”   Much of that wood comes from Virginia and North Carolina, but a lawsuit filed Monday could reduce demand and protect our forests.

The Commonwealth exports about $21 billion in forest products a year, and 30% of this region’s wood leaves from the Port of Virginia. Some of it is destined for plants in Europe that used to burn coal according to Mary Booth, the director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity.

“A lot of the wood that’s burned in Europe now is increasingly sourced from North America," she says.  "Both the Southeast and also Canada are shipping wood to Europe as dried wood pellets.”

Technically, wood is sustainable. We cut some trees and plant new ones, but Booth says the European Union should know better than promote wood as a way to generate electricity.

“Scientists tell us that we need to slow our emissions or actually stop our emissions  immediately and actually grow more trees to take carbon out of the air, and so burning trees -- which is more quick than re-growing them -- is not the solution to climate change,” Booth explains.

That’s why her group is supporting a lawsuit filed by five non-profits in Europe and a North Carolina man who says the policy is destructive here.  If they succeed in court, Booth says, that could reduce demand and help to protect wetland hardwood forests in the Southeastern United States. 

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief
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