Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida/National News

Biomass in FL: An Embarrassment of Riches?

The Prothonotary Warbler, a songbird, weighs 5.6 ounces. It is threatened by biomass harvesting. (photo: Glen Tepke)

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The rich vegetation found in parts of Florida, thanks to plentiful water and lots of sunshine, is feeding a worldwide need for biomass energy facilities, but a study released this month asks, 'At what cost?' The pellets are used primarily for power generation, although some are used for residential heating.

According to F. G. Beauregard, southeast sustainable bioenergy manager at the National Wildlife Federation, the worldwide need for biomass is creating a demand for a precious resource that needs to be managed.

Read more here:
 • Forestry Bioenergy in the Southeast United
 • Executive Summary
 • Conclusion
 • Full Report
  GreenvilleOnline: Biomass harvest may hurt state in the long term

"We grow things really well down here," she noted. "We've got good sun and we've got good rain. Now, we've got a new game in town, with a new use for this wood."

The study by the National Wildlife Federation and Southern Environmental Law Center says the harvesting necessary for biomass threatens land cover, wetlands and wildlife habitats. Last year's 70 percent growth in biomass exports from the south has made the region the largest supplier of wood pellets in the world.

Beauregard said lawmakers need to work more closely with companies harvesting wood for biomass to ensure it's done in ways that don't harm healthy forests or their inhabitants.

"We've got to get the right policies in place to make sure that we are harvesting biomass sustainably, that we're ending up with a net benefit," she said.

The report says much of the new demand for biomass is coming from the European Union, where there are directives and subsidy programs that encourage the use of the pellets to create energy and reduce greenhouse gases.

Photos/graphics and links added by the Observer

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