Enviva Wood Pellet Plant
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The (MDEQ) Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s Permit Board has approved the air pollution permit for Enviva.

The Maryland-based company plans to build the world’s largest wood pellet mill in Lucedale with a generous helping of state and local incentives. When economic development projects hang in the balance, the permit process is usually a fait accompli.

The Enviva plant will manufacture wood pellets as a fuel stock for overseas power plants and it will use a shipping facility at the port of Pascagoula to export the pellets.

The company was sued by a pair of environmental groups in North Carolina over its dust emissions at its plant in Richmond County, North Carolina that can cause respiratory problems for nearby residents.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Enviva settled the lawsuit and agreed to install improved pollution controls to mitigate the dust concerns.

During discussion over Enviva’s planned Lucedale plant, MDEQ officials were asked by the permit board if there’d been any complaints about Enviva’s existing plant in Mississippi in Amory. Officials said that there had been some dust complaints, but that the Lucedale plant would have better pollution controls than the Amory facility.

Another drawback in addition to the environmental concerns over dust emissions, is that it will cost taxpayers about $188,888 for each of the 90 jobs created.

Mississippi taxpayers will provide $4 million in grant funds, with $1.4 million for a water well and a water tank, while the other $2.5 million is for other infrastructure needs and site work.

George County averages about $8 million annually in ad valorem tax revenue. Granting $13 million in tax breaks over the next ten years is a very generous give away. Is this fair to the current tax paying businesses in George County?

Counties in Mississippi do not receive a percentage of the state’s 7 percent sales tax like cities do, so property taxes represent the primary revenue source.

Considering the rich forests that grow in Mississippi and the vast surplus of unsold timber, there’s no reason why any incentives should’ve been required to bring Enviva to the state.

If winning economically means that Mississippi taxpayers have to contribute ever-larger incentives to lure industry to the state, we’re losing in the end because our policymakers are unwilling to instead make the business climate more fertile.

This means a less burdensome regulatory apparatus and a tax code that doesn’t reward a connected few, but allows all entrepreneurs to flourish.


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  1. Andrew Whitehurst on July 20, 2019 at 12:42 am

    Does Bigger Pie have an interest in whether the business model is too reliant on EU climate policy. Or that balancing carbon emissions from burning wood pellets in the UK and carbon sequestration across the Atlantic (here) via replanted trees relies too much on generous model assumptions and subsidies?

  2. Julia O'Neal on July 20, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Just check out the aerial views around pellet plants in Indonesia. Again, MS is selling out to the dumbsters. For the oxygen these forests produce, no price is enuf. State resources down the toliet.

  3. John Fleming on July 28, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    If I was looking for an inflammatory article, this would be a good one. The reason MS and it’s counties give tax incentives is that most, if not all, states and counties do. The money spent on infrastructure is an easy pill to swallow. Regardless of the outcome, that part remains. What George County does with their tax incentives is their business. I do not know what the capital investment of Enveva is on this project, but it has certainly been shared with state and county development groups. All of this investment, like proper capitalism/government relationships, will drive the economy. If you are unfamiliar with all of the filaments in the web of industry, please sit down with anyone with 30+ years of experience in a variety of industries, ask some questions, and listen.
    My understanding of this wood pellet process is not going to be using pulp wood or any other higher value wood. It is supposed to take that material which is by product from other wood endeavors, like limbs cut from the pole, lumber, and pulp trees.
    MDEQ has the responsibility to assure industries meet environmental standards. They are not going to tell Enviva or any other company they can disregard the standards. They have no interest in giving this project a pass.

  4. Andrew Whitehurst on August 2, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Forest landowners in coastal Ms and La have seen their options for selling timber get reduced as mills have closed, and as hauling distances and hauling expenses to active mills increase. My forester explained this to me last year about forest land I help manage for my mother, sister, cousins. If there are no other good options than selling trees for the Enviva supply chain, that’s what this company believes landowners will do. As the options shrink, it is less likely that Enviva will be gleaning the unwanted wood, tops, limbs and scraps from logging jobs and more likely that Enviva’s mill will be the primary user of harvested timber. It is unfortunate that it has come to this – that more layers of value-added use for a landowner’s trees are not available to landowner/sellers. It is hard to believe that a thoughtful, educated person who understands ecology and the ecosystem services provided by forests would be backed into such a corner of forest economics. If sending trees to be ground up into pellet fuel is the only option around for a timber sale, I guess their are lots of people who will just hold their noses and sell to one of Enviva’s wood suppliers. Any other end use for your trees: paper, pressboard, plywood, framing timber, poles would seem a more agreeable choice than sending them to England or Japan to be burned in power plants. (How can that model really work to decrease the output of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere?) But if that’s a business model you can live with, then that is one fate for wood from Southeastern Forests. And if doing clearcuts, selling into Enviva or Drax supply chains, and replanting en masse is something you can imagine and live with, then I guess that’s what you do (after you say a prayer for the earth). If this is such a great business model, why aren’t U.S. power companies burning these pellets?

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