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USIPA hits back against CNN’s report on biomass industry

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The US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) said it is ‘deeply disappointed’ by CNN’s portrayal of the biomass industry.

Its criticism follows a report by CNN that allegedly portrayed the scientific community as being ‘in uniform opposition’ to biomass, citing a number of critical academics. However, it excluded assessments by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In a statement, USIPA said: “We are deeply disappointed by CNN’s portrayal of the biomass industry, which plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change by keeping millions of tons of fossil fuels in the ground while contributing to the broader sustainable forest economy.

“All mainstream analyses show that sustainable bioenergy is one of many technologies that are essential to meet net-zero goals and keep global temperature rise below 1.5oC.

“However, solving the climate crisis will require more than rapid and far-reaching transitions to decarbonise the global economy. Above all, it requires unprecedented levels of cooperation that can only be achieved through honest debate that is guided by science and respects the communities and people climate policy is meant to help.”

USIPA highlighted that the space for open dialogue surrounding biomass is hindered by ‘one-sided climate reporting’ that lacks objectivity and omits key facts.

The organisation said CNN spoke with a lead author for the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report for Agriculture and Forestry, but chose not to include comments from them in the report.

The IPCC’s assessment was recently affirmed in a report from the International Energy Agency, which designates bioenergy as one of the seven pillars of decarbonisation, alongside hydrogen, electrification and energy efficiency. The IEA predicts that by 2050, bioenergy will account for 5% of total electricity generation.

“CNN presents biomass as a dominant, game-changing industry wiping out forests and forest ecosystems across North Carolina, and the entire US Southeast,” said USIPA. “The data, however, shows the complete opposite.

“The US Department of Agriculture monitors changes in America’s forests through its highly-sophisticated Forest Inventory and Analysis programme that includes more than 300,000 ground pilot stations.

“Assessed each year, the USDA data shows that forest area in Eastern North Carolina increased by more than 87,000 acres between 2010 and 2018. Overall, forested area across the US Southeast has remained stable over the past 70 years while forest carbon stocks have more than doubled.”

USIPA highlighted that strict sustainability criteria ensures that the EU only sources biomass that makes a positive contribution to the climate and healthy forest ecosystems.

“The biomass industry is committed to ensuring our operations have a positive economic and environmental impact in local communities,” said USIPA. “Our production facilities comply, and in many cases exceed, all state and federal regulations.

“The industry has also invested more than $2 billion (€2.34 billion) across the US Southeast over the past decade and provides more than 5,000 direct jobs. We are proud to support rural communities that are in critical need of economic investment and meaningful employment opportunities.”