“NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, NC — In 2013, when Enviva Biomass opened a new plant near Belinda Joyner's community in Northampton County, North Carolina, she already knew what to expect.
As the Northeast Organizer for Clean Water for North Carolina, she'd met with residents of a small, majority Black town called Ahoskie, 40 miles from her home. Enviva had built its first North Carolina plant there two years before.
The corporation, which manufactures wood pellets as a purportedly renewable alternative to coal, did what most industries do in prospective communities—they promised jobs, economic development, and minimal impacts. What Ahoskie got was approximately 50 direct jobs, local tree loss, noise, heavy traffic, air pollution, and combustible dust from wood drying and processing that threatens their health and enjoyment of their homes. On top of those impacts, as many scientists and environmental groups now say, wood pellets are not the hoped-for transition fuel championed just 11 years ago.”