BETHESDA, Md.-- Enviva Partners, LP, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, which provide low-carbon, renewable power, issued a statement thanking the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) for their work to ensure that residents’ and other interested parties’ voices were heard during a month-long public comment period as well as at tonight’s public hearing held at the Northampton County High School.
The comment period and hearing are part of a permit modification process initiated by Enviva’s request to voluntarily increase air quality controls at its Northampton wood pellet production plant.
Speaking about the increase in air quality controls and the environmental benefits of renewable wood energy, Enviva Chairman & CEO John Keppler issued the following statement:
“Environmental stewardship is the foundation of our business and this includes working to improve the environmental conditions in the communities in which we operate. The voluntary improvements to the air quality controls at our Northampton facility are a great example of that work.”
“The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has argued – as recently as last week – that bioenergy is an important component to halting the world’s temperature rise and that sustainable forest management, including harvesting for energy, is key to maintaining and increasing forest area.”
“As stewards of a cleaner environment who work every day to reduce use of fossil fuels, we are proud to install these increased air quality controls at our facilities across the Southeastern United States. Thank you to NCDEQ for creating a forum that encourages stakeholders to engage on this important matter. We very much appreciate our stakeholders and supporters in North Carolina for their active participation.”
Economic analysis data indicates that Enviva’s Northampton plant contributes over $150 million annually in regional economic impact. The plant supports nearly 300 direct and indirect jobs and the plant’s average hourly wage is more than double the per capita county income. Enviva has invested over $100 million at its Northampton plant, and in addition spends approximately $70 million in operating expenses per year. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of families in Northampton County living below the poverty rate has decreased by over 15 percent since Enviva’s Northampton plant opened.
About the Northampton permit:
In consultation with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Enviva requested modifications to the air permit for the Northampton plant that will allow it to:
- Install additional air emission controls equipment to further minimize air emissions;
- Increase the permitted production volume by about 235,000 metric tons of pellets per year; and
- Increase the permitted percentage of softwood (pine).
Additional background information on the permits and Enviva’s operations:
- We have made a commitment to voluntarily install additional air emissions control equipment that we believe is above and beyond what is required under the Clean Air Act for this type of permit.
- The new air quality control measures will ensure the company meets or exceeds all regulations while improving the efficiency of the plant. The Northampton plant will be tested annually by a third-party auditor (most permits require testing every five years).
- Enviva conducted due diligence to confirm that the plant’s sourcing area has commercially available low-value wood that meets its strict sustainability requirements in sufficient qualities to supply the plant at the proposed increased production level.
- Enviva’s Responsible Sourcing Policy requires that the company only source low-value fiber from tracts that will be replanted.
- The request to increase the percentage of pine will provide greater flexibility in Enviva’s sourcing while allowing it to meet customer demands for wood pellets with higher energy value.
Additional Background on Enviva and Renewable Wood Energy
- Bioenergy is part of an all-in strategy to reduce carbon emissions and limit dependence on fossil fuels. Biomass energy offers a 74-85% lifecycle reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared with coal. Power generation using biomass also provides a reliable, clean source of energy that complements the intermittency of wind and solar energy, enabling a stable grid without having to rely on fossil powered backup.
- American forest inventories are increasing every year. Today, in the U.S. Southeast private forest owners are growing 40% more wood than they remove every year. Only 2% of the working forests in the Southeastern U.S. are harvested each year, while the remaining 98% continue to grow and store carbon. Working forests thrive when managed sustainably. Our business plays a crucial role in helping ensure the protection and growth of forests. Enviva does not source from forests that will be converted to another land use.
- U.S. Forest Service data shows that both forest area and inventory is increasing in the sourcing regions for Enviva’s plants that have operated the longest in North Carolina, and in fact there is a clear upward trend during the period since we started operations.
- The key to keeping forests as forests is strong demand for forest products – including the additional value of being able to sell low-value wood for bioenergy. Additional demand raises the value landowners can get from keeping their land as managed forests. Absent strong demand, landowners have the incentive to convert their land for a higher return. That could mean a farm, a housing development, or a strip mall.
- Enviva provides landowners with a key market for their low-value wood – including “thinnings,” limbs, tops, or crooked and knotted trees that would otherwise not get used for lumber or other higher value products. Our business plays a crucial role in helping ensure the protection and growth of forests.
- Enviva is certified to the stringent standards of the world’s foremost forestry organizations, such as the Sustainable Biomass Partnership (SBP), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These independent forest certification programs provide a consistent, verifiable, and transparent framework for evaluating the sustainability of a company’s operations, from forest to product. We believe that landowner certification of forestland is a good thing, and so we pay more for fiber from certified forests. We engage in ongoing landowner outreach and education, and we make direct investments to support certifications of forestlands. As we continue working to increase the total percentage of lands certified, we also ensure that non-certified fiber comes from responsible sources.
- Enviva has also developed “Track & Trace®,” a leading-edge sustainable sourcing program, which provides transparent, publicly available data about Enviva’s sourcing. Track & Trace® allows us to specifically identify the source of our fiber to its origin in the forest or sawmill and to further monitor and audit our procurement activities. As part of this program we pay particular attention to land use change, use and effectiveness of Best Management Practices, wetlands, biodiversity, and certification status.
About Enviva Partners, LP
Enviva Partners, LP (NYSE: EVA) is a publicly traded master limited partnership that aggregates a natural resource, wood fiber, and processes it into a transportable form, wood pellets. The Partnership sells a significant majority of its wood pellets through long-term, take-or-pay off-take contracts with creditworthy customers in the United Kingdom and Europe. The Partnership owns and operates seven plants with a combined production capacity of over 3.5 million metric tons of wood pellets per year in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. In addition, the Partnership exports wood pellets through its marine terminals at the Port of Chesapeake, Virginia and the Port of Wilmington, North Carolina and from third-party marine terminals in Mobile, Alabama and Panama City, Florida.