Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Sid Salter: Wood Pellets Plant Creates New Markets for State's Timber

How big an impact does forestry make on Mississippi’s economy? For the last six years, the Mississippi State University Extension Service says that forestry contributed more than a billion dollars annually with an estimated value of $1.2 billion in 2018 alone.


Behind poultry, forestry remains the state’s No. 2 agricultural commodity. When final figures were tallied in early 2019, the numbers were closer to the $1.3 billion the industry generated in 2017.

What does Enviva have to do with Mississippi’s strong timber industry? Plenty, it seems.

Enviva has produced dueling op-ed columns on the subject of the whether construction of a $140 million wood pellet energy facility in George County with a $60 million ship-loading terminal in Jackson County that would initially produce about 100 new jobs and create new diverse markets for Mississippi timber producers is in fact sound public and environmental policy.

On one side is Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson, who argued in a May 9 column in state newspapers: “Gaining investment in the talented people and growing economic engine of Mississippi should be a top priority for our local and national leaders ... in George County, for example, the unemployment rate is nearly twice as high (and) simply put, we need the jobs supplied by the forest products industry. In fact, working forests (already) support over 47,000 jobs in Mississippi and a payroll of more than $1.7 billion.”

Arguing against the plant is the Ashville, North Carolina-based environmental group Dogwood Alliance. On their website, Dogwood asserts: “Enviva, the world’s largest wood pellet manufacturer, is planning an enormous plant in Lucedale, Mississippi in the Gulf Coast region. If built, this plant will be the largest wood pellet plant in the world. Every year, up to 130,000 acres of forests would be cut down, turned into 1.4 million tons of wood pellets, and shipped overseas to be burned for electricity in Europe and Asia.”

Gipson counters: “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the total volume of trees grown in the U.S. Southeast has increased by 50 percent over the last 50 years, and today, private forest owners are growing 40 percent more wood than they remove every year. The reality is that a strong market for forest products ensures that landowners keep planting trees.

“While these out-of-state activists may live in a place that doesn’t need or want forest industry jobs, we know better here in Mississippi. Let’s continue finding ways to sustainably harness our abundant natural resources and grow our rural economy, providing more opportunities for all Mississippians,” Gipson said.

In an opposing May 9 column in Mississippi newspapers, Piney Woods School alum Mary Annaise Heglar – who now lives in New York and identifies as a “climate justice essayist”- argues that Enviva is bringing an environmental danger to the state through increased health risks from emissions and airborne particles.

That claim belies the fact that Enviva since 2010 has already successfully operated a wood pellet facility in Amory, Mississippi, that can produce up to 110K metric tons of pellets in a plant that runs around the clock, seven days per week.

Hyperbole aside, Maryland-based biomass company Enviva is the world’s largest producer of wood pellets. The company owns and operates seven wood pellet plants in the Southeastern U.S. (in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida) that produce over 3 million metric tons of wood pellets annually. The pellets are exported to end-use customers primarily in Europe and Asia.

The Dogwood Alliance and other environmental groups are opposed to cutting trees period. In parts of Mississippi like George County and Monroe County, money for rural Mississippians still grows on trees. As one of the state’s leading forestry experts confirmed to me this week: “Having an expanding market for wood energy is good for Mississippi on multiple fronts.”

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having been in NYC a couple of weeks ago I suggest Mary work on environmental issues in her home town rather than rural Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Wood pellets shipped to Europe are a result of the "environment-friendly" Kyoto Protocol and subsequent Paris Agreement, which require those countries to shift more of their energy consumption to renewable energy. Trees happen to fall into this category. Not only is this Dogwood group chasing their tail, they appear to have caught it and continue to run around in circles.

Anonymous said...

Pardon my ignorance, but, these three million metric tons that are exported to Europe and Asia....are used for what, exactly?

Anonymous said...

to 8:56..... europe?.....kyoto protocol? paris agreement ? wow, pretty beefy terms. do you really expect anyone around here to know what you are talking about? kyoto protocol? what is that ? some kind of diet? help us poor cotton choppers out.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest anyone interested in this issue and this pellet plant look into the long history of it. Will it finally get built? Maybe. Will it live up to the hype and warrant the expenditure of taxpayer dollars? Not the slightest chance - refer to recent JJ topics like Kemper and the Shuckers stadium on the coast to every other boondoggle that has been used to loot tax dollars/other people's money.

One of the real problems in using "outside funding" (taxpayer, OPM, "investors," etc.) for things like this is that there is a huge industry, much of it real, working feverishly to make oil, wood, coal, etc., unnecessary and obsolete fuel source(s). Just as "desktop computers in every home" were, in 1979, thought of fantasy by many and within 20 years, cell phones (also a rare thing 20 years prior) had more computing power than many corporate systems 20 years prior, there is at least a reasonable chance that this pellet mill will become obsolete much sooner than projected by its proponents. Making projections using long timeframes on things that are being rapidly and actively outdated is simply bad business/economics; it is akin to the proverbial buggy whip manufacturer making long term factory plans at the dawn of the automotive age.

Anonymous said...

Timber is a renewable crop which is managed by the growers. These tree huggers are out of touch with reality.

Doesn't Mississippi also have a charcoal production plant in the northern part of the state? Like briquettes for your Green Egg?

Anonymous said...

If it is so lucrative to the parent company and its' investors, let them provide the capital financing. This has already been floated in southwest Mississippi and could not make it without government funding.

Anon-E-Mouse said...

Power plants stopped burning coal in Great Britain. They now use US produced wood pellets and there aren’t enough to make demand.

Anonymous said...

New technology. That is hilarious. If it creates jobs and doesn't require tax money, I'm all for it. But it ain't gonna save Mississippi nor is it going to destroy the planet.

Anonymous said...

In the same way the beef plant created new markets for the state's cows, right, Sid? When I worked with you at The Clarion-Ledger, you had more sense than this. What happened?

Anonymous said...

10:54 - Who the hell do you think believes Europe and Asia are out of trees, firewood and timber?

Anonymous said...

Are these the same people who say they will buy flying carp in the Delta and ship them to China?

Third grade reading gate said...

9:15 - reading is a wonderful thing. And a great tool. I realize that today's kids would rather ask questions than read or research and maybe that applies to folks that click on to JJ occasionally.

IN the article posted, the one written by Salter that you are commenting on, it says that these pellets are shipped to these other countries "to be burned to create electricity".

hopefully, my answer to your inquiry wasn't too long that you chose not to read it for yourself - and I'm pleased to be able to provide you with an answer to your probing inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we ship them natural gas instead?

Anonymous said...

Why do you want to give the money to Louisiana? Trump's already saying he's going to give them a new bridge and Mississippi is going to pay for it!

Anonymous said...

To compare this deal to the 'beef plant' - which wasted $50+ million of state taxpayer dollars - or Kemper that wasted a few billion of stockholder's dollars, shows one's ignorance.

This is not "new technology" - which Kemper was. The beef plant was not new, but it was proven through experience to be financially unfeasible.

This technology is operating in several places across the south - including in Mississippi. This company has seven operating plants in existence. There is a market for the product (which all the feasibility studies proved that there wasn't a market for the beef plant product.)

The state's investment into the project is an appropriate expenditure for any company - water, sewer, roads - all basic infrastructure.

No company that builds a new plant has to install its own water supply, or build its own roads. Spending money for those things in order to allow an industry to operate is certainly reasonable. (see the "treetops lane" road in Flowood; Or the East Metro Parkway for local examples of what providing infrastructure is and how it allows businesses to locate.)

A prime example in the opposite direction is Puckett Machinery. City of Jackson would not provide some basic road adjustments and other services. So they took their business and moved across the river and took their tax dollars with them.

Anonymous said...

An entity with which I am associated was given an opportunity to get involved with a pellet mill down in George County about 8-10 years ago. The name at the time wasn't Enviva - it was something like Gulf Coast Green Energy or Renewable Energy. Something in the back of my mind says there was another company name involved between those two. It was supposed to be a $25 million deal. Then Jackson County did some financial acrobatics and suddenly a new port specifically for these pellets was on the board. Before we could complete DD it began mushrooming rapidly with many of the typical hallmarks of a too-good-to-be-true (or possible) public funds siphoning scheme and we backed away slowly with hands firmly on the wallet. Within about a year, the whole thing went dark for a time.
As another reply pointed out, if this were all private investment capital seeking a healthy return on the investment, I'd say welcome and a sincere wish for many years of success for the company, the workers and the counties involved. With public money involved, I'd say no way, no how and it will end with screwed taxpayers and enriched hogs with their snouts in the trough.

While "scam" may not be proper term as the plant and port would actually exist and there is a real market and industry for the pellets, there is absolutely many metric tons of good ol' Grade A Mississippi-style bullshit along with all the metric tons of pellets.

Anonymous said...

A few months ago, I saw where the same thing was floating around Pine Bluff Arkansas. I wouldn't be surprised that the opposition group wasn't paid by the Pellet Company to make the claim they really are in business.

Sounds like a beef plant.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to look into the wood pellet plant in Quitman. Government assistance received through Federal and state New Market Tax Credits, plus local government assistance. Lasted longer than the beef plant, but never was able to secure significant sales contracts and went backrupt. What's different this time.

Anonymous said...

There is a election coming, politicians at all levels transform from cocoons to butterflies. They start talking about how wonderful things will be if we just follow their lead. Government gets bigger, bad ideas get legs, then move forward with no accountability. Get ready folks, the one eyed wiggler is about to laid to the taxpayer on this deal.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:43am

http://capitalpeakpartners.com/manufacturing-plant/

Anonymous said...

3:42 p.m. - You wasted an awful lot of time with that silly-assed post in a juvenile attempt to make one look stupid. All you did was make yourself look stupid. Now you can go back to trolling and shootin' pocket pool in your shorts.

Rod Knox said...

A lot of people are ready to jump on board with whatever is trendy. Even Fox Noooz is going more and more GREEN. Before long Hannety will be supporting wind mills and gun free zones.

2016 Hottest Reporter Poll

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel

Who is the hottest reporter?

Archives

Who is the Hottest Reporter in Jackson?

Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS
.