The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Rainforest Alliance announced the first FSC certification of a wood biomass pellet mill in the U.S.
As part of the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program, Curran Renewable Energy, LLC will become the first certified producer and distributor of wood pellets.
Wood pellets consist of compressed and pulverized dry biomass from tree sources. Biomass is any recently dead organic material that can be used as a fuel source.
According to the USDA’s Forest Products Laboratory, wood biomass can produce 90 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and other fossil fuels when burned for energy.
By certifying with the FSC, Curran Renewable Energy will create wood pellets from FSC-certified forests in northern New York State.
The FSC certification of the mill and the forests ensures that the company sources its wood from well-managed forests that ensure long-term productivity and conserve biodiversity.
The FSC certification comes at a time when the federal government, states and many public utility companies are raising the requirements for renewable energy targets.
There are concerns that the renewable energy standards in a current climate bill moving through Congress will give timber companies the leverage to log forests in an unsustainable manner in order to meet federal and state renewable energy requirements.
With greater demand for renewable energy coming from biomass sources, the FSC certification offers the first assurance that meeting renewable energy standards will not be done at the expense of the environment.
The need to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy supplies must be tempered with sound public policy and innovation from the private sector to ensure that “renewable” energy sources are truly renewable. The FSC certification of a wood pellet mill appears a strong first step.