First Biomass Pellet Mill in US to Receive FSC Certification


Photo via CleanTechnica

As fossil fuels get more expensive, some are talking about using more wood to generate energy. A New York-based company, Curran Renewable Energy, LLC, is saying they are the first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain-of-Custody certified producer of wood pellets for national and international markets. FSC is the global standard-setter for sustainable forest management. The pellets are made by compressing pulverized wood. Says the Rainforest Alliance, who certified the wood pellet factory:

"With global concerns over the world's dependence on fossil fuels, governments and businesses are looking for renewable energy alternatives," explains Richard Donovan, Rainforest Alliance chief of forestry. "The certification of the first biomass pellet mill in the US opens up a new industry to the FSC system. FSC-certified products can be found in all wood and paper markets including building materials, decking, flooring, packaging, furniture, books, magazines and business papers."

"With the increasing importance of biomass as a source of energy, businesses are recognizing the risks that could result from placing increased pressure on finite forest resources to fill the demand for their production," explains Dave Bubser, SmartWood regional manager for the Rainforest Alliance. "The FSC/Rainforest Alliance certification acts as a guarantee to consumers and producers that their efforts to promote energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not compromised by destructive impacts to forests, communities and wildlife that can result from overharvesting. Curran Renewable Energy's efforts establish FSC certification as a guide for balancing environmental and social values with the production of forest-based biofuels."

Wood for Energy:
The ACES climate bill moving through the House has billions for woody biomass. The bill's renewable energy standard (RES) definition has been changed to include woody biomass from private and public forests, including National Forests. The RES standard "at 6% in 2012 and gradually rises to 20% in 2020." However, the bill allows electricity savings be counted "automatically" for a quarter of total and up to two fifths more on a state by state basis. That reduces the renewable energy mandates to a minimum of 12% by 2020 with 8% stemming from efficiency.

Especially in western states, a significant portion of that remaining 12% may be satisfied through the use of woody biomass from forests. Combined with the biomass counted towards renewable transportation fuels, this could provide a subsidy for the timber industry and create long-term pressure to log and "thin" forests for biomass, even when ecologically inappropriate.

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