In 2017, Arkansas Public Media began to investigate the proliferation of industrial chip mills across the Deep South, including a newly opened mill in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The mills are grinding timber stands into millions of tons of wood pellets for export to fuel retrofitted coal fire plants in the European Union and United Kingdom, where biomass is classified and subsidized as clean renewable fuel. The pellet industry, which is self-regulated, claims to use sustainable logging practices and that wood pellets are a carbon neutral fuel. Opponents claim chip mills are destroying native southern forests and pellets burn dirtier than coal.
We prepared a national report on the controversy which recently aired on NPR's "All Things Considered," which you can listen to here.