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Drax Destroying Louisiana Forests

February 28, 2021

By Paul Homewood




 Drax Sustainability Report



According to Drax, most of the wood they use for pellets comes from sawmill residues, thinnings and branches.

Drax operate three pellet processing plants in Louisiana, with a capacity of 1.5m tonnes:




And it is clear that all three use little else other than whole, healthy tree trunks:



Amite Bioenergy

Morehouse Bioenegy

La Salle Bioenergy


They claim this is “low grade roundwood”, but the forests it all comes from previously supplied paper mills, so it certainly is not low grade. And it simply means that paper mills will have to source wood from elsewhere.

There is already ample evidence that huge areas of hardwood forests are being cleared for Drax pellet plants in Virginia as well. And the NRDC in Canada have just issued fresh protests against Drax’s destruction of their forests.





Supposedly, BEIS have insisted on strict sustainability rules, but these are little more than a form filling exercise, whereby Drax certify themselves.

It is abundantly clear now, that Drax’s biomass operation is not only highly destructive for American forests, but also unnecessarily putting huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the air, which may take decades to offset through new growth, if at all.

  1. GeoffB permalink
    February 28, 2021 7:17 pm

    I could almost make friends with the green loonies to stop this! Has to be done in the USA though, no chance of Drax being shut down from the UK, too many fingers in the pie.

  2. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 28, 2021 7:21 pm

    My objection to the idiocy is not the wood burning but the foolishness of the politico-economic basis on which a more expensive fuel is burned at considerably lower round-trip efficiency to satisfy a totally artificial argument.

    If CO2 was really the cause of any form of climate emergency, only waste-wood would be burned in boilers (purely on economic grounds of course). China and India would not be allowed to increase their coal burn astronomically but forced to close the monsters down. Also, Australia, USA, South Africa and Indonesia would not be allowed to export coal or gas to anyone.

    Fortunately, there is no climate emergency and the effect of increased CO2 is mainly beneficial. Hypocritical scientists and politicians have manufactured a situation where bureaucracy trumps sense.

  3. Penda100 permalink
    February 28, 2021 7:23 pm

    But look at all the lovely subsidies.

  4. Mike Jackson permalink
    February 28, 2021 7:28 pm

    Perhaps Kwasi Karteng would care to comment on this. Or maybe Alok Sharma, his predecessor as Secretary of State, now relieved of mundane matters in order to concentrate on making COP26 a success!!

    Since nobody has managed to make the previous 25 produce anything but enough hot air to keep the balloon aloft for another year I don’t hold out much hope but it would at least be interesting to have the reaction of this gabfest’s host to the idea that burning 1,500,000 metric tons of quality wood year to make electricity is somehow environmentally friendly, especially when a) you have to transport it several thousand miles, and b) you are sitting slap-bang on top of a coal mine!

    • croquetteer permalink
      March 2, 2021 10:07 am

      I bet Harrabin’s all over this, oh no wait its green init!

  5. Devoncamel permalink
    February 28, 2021 7:35 pm

    The whole thing is s racket, both politically and environmentally. The hypocrisy is barely believable.

  6. Berkeley Thirsk permalink
    February 28, 2021 7:54 pm

    The whole world is being run by complete idiots!

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      March 1, 2021 12:41 am

      No, we vote in the ‘complete idiots’ & they do what they are told to do by the clever & very rich puppet masters … who really run the world.

  7. John Wilson permalink
    February 28, 2021 8:29 pm

    With north american lumber markets at all time highs , it would seem like a crime to waste perfectly good trees to such an environmentally wasteful and counter productive industry.
    It does, however , illustrate the utter hypocrisy of the whole climate fiasco.

  8. February 28, 2021 8:30 pm

    The Drax Operation is a disgrace and one of the Directors is a member of the Climate Change Committee.

  9. February 28, 2021 8:36 pm

    Don’t forget that the pellets are transported thousands of miles using the most polluting firm of transport known to man, ships.

    So the trees suck up co2 for 4 or 5 years then are cut down compressed, sprayed and transported, all using processes that create large amounts of co2 , then when burnt the co2 sucked up by the trees 4 or 5 years ago is released back into the atmosphere.

    Can someone explain in words of one syllable why this is considerd green?

  10. February 28, 2021 8:37 pm

    BBC Dogma and Environment page
    Have we planted too much faith in trees?
    Video caption: A warming world may mean trees can’t do their job as effectively
    Forests are often touted as a natural fix for climate change, but a warming world may mean trees can’t do their job as effectively.

    It’s really a seg linked to their podcast by @NealRazzell & @GraihaghJackson

    It seems we all love trees.
    Politicians, celebrities and big businesses love trees too.
    They’re seen as a natural climate fix because they eat carbon dioxide, one of the main gases that cause global warming.

    The number of trees pledged in the coming years runs into the billions. Pakistan wants to plant more than three billion trees in the next couple of years.
    Ethiopia claims to have planted 350 million in one day!
    (a ridiculous bunk claim the BBC shouldn’t be repeating here)
    Neal Razzell and Graihagh Jackson try to see the wood from the trees amongst all these claims,
    and discover that a ‘forest’ planting campaign doesn’t always end up creating the natural woodland we imagine it to be.

    And to add to the urgency of the *climate crisis*, there’s a new problem – a warming world may mean plants can’t suck up our carbon dioxide as effectively.
    Have we planted too much faith in trees?
    (Likewise BBC shouldn’t be using loaded words like “Climate crisis)

    • Martin permalink
      February 28, 2021 9:27 pm

      This sounds like garbage. Plant growth is limited by the availability of 3 things – water, heat and CO2. Assuming availability of the first two, it is CO2 that is limiting – which is why it is pumped into commercial greenhouses. So in a warmer world with more CO2 plants will grow more quickly, as we are seeing with the greening of desert margins.

      • Tim Leeney permalink
        March 1, 2021 12:15 pm

        And light, of course.

  11. Robin Guenier permalink
    February 28, 2021 9:02 pm

    Many thanks for this Paul. As I’ve mentioned here recently, I recently emailed my MP about Drax. In his reply he assured me that ‘generating stations utilising biomass only receive subsidies in respect of compliant biomass’, going on to say that one requirement for compliance is ‘that biomass fuels are derived from forest waste wood and residues’. I intend to get back to him on this (and on claims that burning biomass is ‘carbon neutral’). He’s very responsive and tries to deal with constituents honestly and promptly – not easy for him as he’s ambitious and doesn’t want to rock the boat.

    I’m beginning to build a useful case – and this post should be especially helpful. Thanks again.

    • March 1, 2021 8:58 am

      I investigated Drax at length for Denierland. My estimate was that to feed it with a rapid-growing softwood (loblolly pine) you’d need >11,000 km sq of plantation on a twenty year rotation to feed it. To pay back the carbon dioxide emitted in harvesting, production and transport you would need to add 1,800 km sq of new forest where there was none before, given 25 years’ operation.

  12. stevejay permalink
    February 28, 2021 9:45 pm

    70,000 tonnes a day in thinnings and offcuts, pull the other one !

  13. February 28, 2021 9:55 pm

    Saturday’s Times reports
    Clouds over Mark Carney’s role in this year’s climate talks
    after his claims that the company where he works has “net zero” emissions were dismissed as “greenwash”

    Basically they move funds and book that as a huge CO2 profit
    ‘Yeh we had a $2bn in a coal mine
    and we’ve moved that to 2 solar projects that use $100m in gas heating a year
    we’ll deduct all the CO2 we’ve now AVOIDED from the coal project and call it a net 400 million tonnes in Co2 savings
    so we’ll balance that against all our oil stocks and say its net zero over all’

    He came under fire yesterday after it emerged that he had been using an unrecognised and widely discredited definition of “net zero” to promote the green credentials of Brookfield Asset Management, the Canadian investment company he joined last year.

    Dr Ben Caldecott, director of Oxford University’s sustainable finance programme, said the idea that “avoided emissions” made up for pollution elsewhere was “greenwashing” and “plain wrong”. He added: “Many large asset managers have investments in clean energy. This doesn’t undo their investments in fossil fuels. It absolutely doesn’t make them net zero today.”

    John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “It’s worrying that the UK government’s top climate finance adviser should be promoting such a weak definition of net zero

    • February 28, 2021 9:57 pm

      Greens get a kicking from almost ll the commenters behind the Times paywall
      – There is a lot of coal smoke & mirrors surrounding corporate greenness.
      In other areas it’s referred to as creative accounting.

      – Just end this wretched green crp.
      It’s just a complete nonsense. Deaths from anything climate related are plummeting.
      It’s a fake emergency – we need to focus on real problems.

  14. February 28, 2021 10:06 pm

    Same page : World is failing to follow Britain’s lead on climate targets, warns UN
    Only 75 countries counting for 30 per cent of emissions have signed up for Paris
    And the UN says the combined impact would only be
    enough to achieve a ONE per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, compared with 2010 levels.
    .. a decline of *45* per cent would be needed to meet the 1.5C target.

    • February 28, 2021 10:09 pm

      BTW I quote the final paragraph after about 2,000 words of blah blah
      Reader comments
      So basically, as Britain is emptying the tank with a teaspoon, China is filling it with an hosepipe.

      – Clearly the rest of the world does not want to follow us into economic suicide.

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 28, 2021 10:18 pm

    Some key personnel:

    Dr Rebecca Heaton FICFor

    Rebecca Heaton is responsible for Drax Group’s efforts to mitigate climate change, ensuring that sound science underpins climate change polices and business strategy. She is also responsible for developing sustainability and climate change research programmes.

    Rebecca has a 20-year global career working at the interface between business, science and policy. After an early career in academia, she has held senior roles in a number of large energy companies.

    A Chartered Forester, her expertise spans:

    climate change and land-use
    the role business has to play in enabling the UK to decarbonise

    and of course she sits alongside Deben at the CCC.

    Will [Gardiner] joined Drax in 2015 as CFO and was appointed as CEO in January 2018.

    He has a wealth of experience in finance and technology, having held CFO and divisional Finance Director roles at a number of major companies, including CSR plc (acquired by Qualcomm, Inc in 2015) and Sky.

    Will has a track record of creating value and building well-managed companies.

    He has been a key architect of our purpose and strategy, driving the sustainability agenda from the top, including Drax’s response to the climate change crisis, and ensuring that we are delivering for our stakeholders.

    He provides leadership of the executive team and takes responsibility for important external relationships and stakeholder management. Will is also a non-executive board member of the Sustainable Biomass Program.

    He has dual US-UK citizenship and has lived and worked in the UK since 1998.

    External appointments:

    Sustainable Biomass Program Limited (SBP; Member of the Board representing biomass end-users)
    Energy Transitions Commission (ETC; Commissioner)

    Quite a rogues’ gallery.

    Talks about getting certified… is Broadmoor a destination? Self certification it seems.

  16. February 28, 2021 10:33 pm

    pg 15 Points out the Climate loons have taken over Amnesty

    “backlash over its priorities
    Supporters concerned that its focus on political prisoners …
    may have been diminished by growing emphasis on inequality and climate change“*

    Anyone here not a sinner?
    Amnesty say they don’t have to protect Navalny, cos he picked his nose 10 years ago.

    sorry … ” because of comments he made about migrants 14 years ago”

    * I note that key line in the print edition
    has been sanitised out in the online edition

    • Crowcatcher permalink
      March 1, 2021 7:14 am

      I left Amnesty a couple of years ago as a result of their fauning over Greta.
      My very caustic letter of resignation received no reply, but they still keep sending me their “literature”.
      And, at elections I don’t vote for any candidate that mentions climate change or net (should be nett of course) zero – therefore spoilt ballot paper with very caustic remarks.

  17. Dodgy Geezer permalink
    February 28, 2021 10:40 pm

    Look on the bright side! CO2 is good plant food, and the energy from wood burning is dispatchable.

    The only other option is for us to stop using electricity….

  18. Broadlands permalink
    March 1, 2021 1:22 am

    “They’re seen as a natural climate fix because they eat carbon dioxide, one of the main gases that cause global warming.”

    Yes, and when they die (or catch fire) the oxygen they helped create recycles them back to CO2 and H2O. It’s called aerobic respiration… the carbon cycle. Unless a tree (or an alga) is buried geologically it will sooner than later be oxidized. Planting millions for trees is at best a costly short term option. A few lightning created wildfires and back to square one? Most wildfires are man-made anyhow. It’s tough being green with little understanding.

  19. Chris Morris permalink
    March 1, 2021 3:56 am

    In Drax’s reports, they believe they are “truthful” Those logs are thinnings and low grade roundwood. It is just that those logs are too small to cut up for lumber and they practice a 100% thinning ratio.

  20. March 1, 2021 9:08 am

    Drax operate three pellet processing plants in Louisiana

    Those would need to be *sustainable* pellet plants, otherwise the energy used in drying the wood and pellet production defeats the supposed object of the exercise. And that’s before they’ve even sent them off on the diesel-powered trucks/trains/ships to the UK.

  21. March 1, 2021 9:35 am

    Not only does Drax destroy North American forests, but its CO2 emissions also negate any of the CO2 savings from the other UK Weather Dependent “Renewables”. See the numbers:

    In the UK the policy to use Biomass at Drax completely negates all CO2 emissions reduction efforts that might have been achieved using Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind Power, Onshore and Offshore and Solar).

    The use of imported Biomass in the UK and Germany is essentially self-defeating as a means to reduce CO2 emissions that might affect the Climate. The estimates above show that in the UK the Green policies for Renewables and Biomass actually result in additional CO2 emissions.

    This is the nonsense of self-defeating Green policies in the UK

    • MikeHig permalink
      March 1, 2021 11:17 pm

      That’s an excellent analysis – thank you.

      Imho it merits a separate post. Hopefully Paul will agree?

      One question about the adverse impact of using biomass: do your figures include the lost absorption capacity of the timber felled to feed Drax? (I am not sure whether that might be a significant figure).

  22. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    March 1, 2021 9:51 am

    Wow !
    What does Louisiana Greenpeace have to say about this logging and transatlantic shipping practice ?

  23. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    March 1, 2021 10:00 am

    None of the warmists predictions have ever come true.

  24. avro607 permalink
    March 2, 2021 7:01 pm

    Found this from the past on my Bio file ref. the Massachusetts Forest Watch.Dont know how to send as you all do,so here it is longhand.
    Ive just tried it and it is still available.

  25. avro607 permalink
    March 2, 2021 7:05 pm

    Ooer! I didn’t know that WP did it automatically,highlighted in blue as well.

  26. croquetteer permalink
    March 5, 2021 9:26 am

    something else for Harrabin to get his teeth into. Tesla partners with nickel mine Actually reported on the BBC with a green spin!

  27. March 5, 2021 8:24 pm

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

    • March 5, 2021 9:09 pm

      Sorry, but I don’t think there is a way to reverse it. I have had this conversation with WordPress before.

      It should dry up in a day or so.

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