Over the last several months, the 350PDX Forest Defense team has joined folks from all over the region to raise concerns about the Drax corporation’s plans to build a biomass pellet export plant in Longview, WA. The plant would include a huge processing facility designed to convert almost a million tons of wood every year into pellets for export, co-firing the pellets in coal power plants.

Drax would receive “green energy” subsidies to produce electricity from their biomass plant, but we know that biomass is a false climate solution (there’s nothing “green” about it). Using wood for industrial-scale energy production actually creates two to three times more greenhouse gas emissions than using fossil fuels, and Drax’s plant would pose serious risks to the health of local forests.

Not only does this plan have dire consequences for our forests and for carbon emissions, the process of turning trees into pellets has well known adverse impacts on air quality, and Drax has a long track record of violating its air pollution permits. Drax’s Morehouse biomass plant in Mississippi emitted three times more toxic substances than permitted, and Drax had to pay the largest air quality violation fine in the state’s history.

A win for the Stop Drax campaign (but the fight isn’t over)

Our communities don’t deserve to be breathing in toxic pollution from a greedy corporation trying to increase its bottom line at the expense of our health, our local forests, and the climate.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that Drax’s proposed biomass plant in Longview is facing a serious setback: The SW Washington Clean Air Agency (SWWCAA) just withdrew Drax’s draft air pollution permit and postponed the public hearing that was scheduled for Thursday, March 28th.

This is great news for everyone who cares about clean air and climate justice. Many of you have joined us in asking the SWWCAA to deny this permit, so thank you for taking action. This only happened because we made our voices heard. Hooray!

However, this fight is far from over. We fully expect the SWWCAA will issue a new draft permit, triggering another public comment period, and we will be ready when it comes. We will keep calling on the SWCAA to give a high level of scrutiny to Drax’s application for an air pollution permit, and to ultimately deny their application.

In the meantime, we invite everyone in SW Washington to join us tomorrow for a free matinee showing of Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? from 2-4PM at the Kelso Theater Pub in Kelso. No need to reserve tickets beforehand, the event is free — just show up! Hope to see you there.


Brenna Bell, 350PDX Climate Forest Manager