By Tara Ramsey
Those in the timber industry may see green in their wallets with North Carolina’s surge toward the development of a form of renewable energy known as biomass. But some environmental agencies are worried that the efforts for more earth-friendly energy sources may not be green enough.
With the market for lumber down because of the economy, and environmental awareness on the rise, it might seem that using wood chips to generate power would not be a controversial option. But the Raleigh office of the Environmental Defense Fund is opposing the registration of two Duke Energy Corp. coal-fired generating stations — one in North Carolina in Rowan County, the other in South Carolina in Anderson County — as renewable energy facilities. The Environmental Defense Fund is critical of the use of biomass at Buck Steam Station in Salisbury and Lee Steam Station in Williamson partly because there are no laws requiring the use of sustainable forests. MeadWestvaco Corp. has opposed the registration because Duke used whole trees cut into wood chips as its biomass source during tests of the new technology, a practice that environmentalists argue is not renewable.
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