Enviva Receives Stamp of Approval to Voluntarily Install New Air Quality Equipment in Southampton Facility
Will Also Allow for Increased Production Volume
BETHESDA, MD – NOV. 20, 2019 – Enviva Partners, LP (“Enviva”), the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, a renewable and sustainable energy source used to generate electricity and heat, received approval from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (“Virginia DEQ”) to install voluntary air quality equipment to further minimize emissions at its Southampton wood pellet production plant. Enviva’s modified permit will also allow for increased production and increased utilization of softwood (pine). The modifications came at Enviva’s request.
The Virginia DEQ held an informational session for local residents in August, and a well-attended hearing in September, where they heard from stakeholders, residents, and interested parties about the company’s request for additional air quality controls. At the hearing, dozens of local community members expressed their support for the Southampton plant, citing Enviva’s job creation, contribution to economic growth, community support, and strong commitment to air quality and sustainability.
Speaking about the permit approval, Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler made the following statement:
“Thank you to Virginia DEQ for their extensive diligence and review of our permit request, as well as for their thoughtful efforts to hear and include comments and input from all stakeholders during the process.”
“This permit comes at an important time. The urgency to address climate change has never been more acute. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – widely considered the world’s leading authority on climate science – calls for increased use of bioenergy like Enviva’s wood pellets in every one of their proposed pathways to limiting the impact of climate change to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is because scientific support for renewable wood energy is clear: bioenergy is a critical part of an all-in renewable energy solution to climate change. In September 2019, more than 100 forest scientists from over 50 universities joined the IPCC in embracing the environmental benefits of bioenergy like wood pellets, noting: ‘The long-term benefits of forest biomass energy are well-established in science literature.’ We look forward to continuing to help Virginia be a leader in renewable energy and lessening worldwide dependence on coal.”
“Enviva is constantly investing. We invest in people – both those who wear the Enviva brand as they work, as well as those who live in and around our facilities. We invest in communities where we operate to maintain good jobs, quality local schools, local EMS, and first responders. We also invest in our facilities to ensure that we exceed the requirements and standards set forth by the Clean Air Act, as well as state and local standards. Enviva’s investments create a positive economic and social impact in the Southampton area and the entire state of Virginia, as well as for the environment. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts during the comment period. We’re grateful to be a part of your community.”
Economic analysis data indicate that Enviva’s presence in the state of Virginia contributes over $125.5 million annually in regional economic impact and supports approximately 450 direct and indirect jobs. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of families in Southampton County living below the poverty rate has decreased by over 12 percent since Enviva’s Southampton plant opened.
At the same time, U.S. Forest Service data show that both forest area and inventory are increasing in the sourcing regions for Enviva’s Southampton plant, and there is a clear upward trend during the period since Enviva started operations.
About the modified Southampton permit:
Following consultation in September 2018, the Virginia DEQ approved Enviva’s requested modifications to its existing air permit for the Southampton plant that will allow it to:
• Install additional air emission controls equipment to further minimize air emissions;
• Increase the permitted production volume by about 245,000 metric tons of pellets per year; and
• Increase the permitted percentage of softwood (pine).
Additional background information on the permits and Enviva’s operations:
• Enviva made a commitment to voluntarily install additional air emissions control equipment to achieve higher environmental standards for its Southampton plant.
• The new air quality control measures are designed to ensure that Enviva meets or exceeds applicable regulations while improving the efficiency of the plant. The Southampton plant will be subject to stringent testing on a regular basis by a third-party auditor.
• Enviva conducted due diligence to confirm that the plant’s sourcing area has commercially available low-value wood that meets its strict sustainability requirements in sufficient quantities to supply the plant at the proposed increased production level.
• Enviva’s Responsible Sourcing Policy requires that it only source low-value wood from tracts that will remain as working forests.
• Enviva’s request to increase the percentage of pine utilized at the Southampton plant will provide greater flexibility in Enviva’s sourcing while allowing it to meet customer demands for wood pellets with higher energy value.
Additional Background on Enviva and Renewable Wood Energy
• At the multinational level, on August 8, 2019, the UN IPCC, which continues to drive climate policies around the globe, released a Special Report on Climate Change and Land (the “SRCCL”). This report pointed out that a sustainable future depends on a diverse managed forest products industry that includes sawtimber, pulpwood, and bioenergy. This is a reiteration of IPCC’s long-standing view, as expressed in the October 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, that biomass and bioenergy must play a key role under every single pathway to achieve the goal of limiting climate change to 1.5-degrees Celsius. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in its recently published Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050 report, not only reiterated IPCC’s view on the critical role of biomass, but also called for a tripling of the amount of modern biomass used for energy production from 5 percent today to 16 percent by 2050, as it laid out its own proposed global pathway to a carbon-neutral and renewable future by 2050.
• Bioenergy is part of an all-in strategy to limit dependence on fossil fuels, and encourage private landowners to grow more trees. Bioenergy offers a 74-85% lifecycle reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared with coal. Power generation using bioenergy also provides a reliable and renewable source of energy that complements the intermittency of wind and solar energy, enabling a stable grid without reliance on fossil-powered backup.
• Global demand for wood pellets is growing as countries around the world seek to fight climate change and meet their renewable energy and carbon reduction targets by reducing the use of coal and other fossil fuels for power generation. From 2012-2017, the European energy market saw a 55 percent decrease in coal consumption and a 98 percent increase in wood pellet demand. Working to meet this demand, Enviva’s pellet deliveries to Europe have increased by 400 percent in that same time period.
• American forest inventories are increasing every year. Today, in the U.S. Southeast, private forest owners are growing 40% more wood than they remove every year. Only 2% of the working forests in the Southeastern U.S. are harvested each year, while the remaining 98% are in various stages of regrowth, continuing to grow and store carbon. Working forests thrive when managed sustainably. Enviva plays a crucial role in helping ensure the protection and growth of forests. Enviva does not source from forests that will be converted to another land use.
• The key to keeping forests as forests is strong demand for forest products – including the additional value of being able to sell low-value wood for bioenergy. Additional demand raises the value landowners can get from keeping their land as managed forests. Absent strong demand, landowners have the incentive to convert their land for a higher return. That could mean a farm, a housing development, or a strip mall.
• Enviva provides landowners with a key market for their low-value wood – including “thinnings,” tops, limbs, and other low-value wood that would otherwise not get used for lumber or other higher value products. Enviva plays a crucial role in helping ensure the protection and growth of forests.
• Enviva is certified to the stringent standards of the world’s foremost forestry organizations, such as the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These independent forest certification programs provide a consistent, verifiable, and transparent framework for evaluating the sustainability of a company’s operations, from forest to product. Enviva believes that landowner certification of forestland is a good thing, and so they pay more for fiber from certified forests. Enviva engages in ongoing landowner outreach and education and makes direct investments to support certifications of forestlands. As Enviva continues to work to increase the total percentage of lands certified, they also ensure that non-certified fiber comes from responsible sources.
• Enviva has also developed “Track & Trace®,” an industry-leading sustainable sourcing program, which provides transparent, publicly available data about Enviva’s sourcing. Track & Trace® works with its supply chain partners to verify and document the origin of all of their wood. As part of this program Enviva pays particular attention to land use change, use and effectiveness of Best Management Practices, wetlands, biodiversity, and certification status.
Maria C. Moreno