UARB rejects wood supply worries

In contrarian‘s view, the strongest arguments put forward by environmentalists in the NSP biomass application hearings dealt with wood supply.  The UARB gave them short shrift.

Black River Wind Ltd. argued that pressure to supply the proposed plant would encourage NewPage to adopt unsustainable forestry practices.

The Ecology Action Centre praised recent improvements in NewPage’s forest management practices. It argued that a smaller biomass generator, designed to run on wood waste generated by NewPage’s existing forestry operations, could be a useful component of the campaign to wean NSP and its customers off dirty coal, but concluded that a boiler of the size proposed would overtax Eastern Nova Scotia’s wood supply.

The UARB concluded that harvesting practices were beyond its jurisdiction, adding,  “The Board assumes that other authorities who have responsibility for the harvesting of the forest will ensure appropriate regulations and guidelines with respect to harvesting biomass are in place.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the board did not sidestep jurisdiction over the biomass supply question, but sided with the project proponents, despite a lack of definitive data on wood supply:

With respect to the supply of biomass, it is difficult, based on the record, for the Board to make clear findings on this issue but on balance accepts the evidence of NewPage that sufficient biomass exists to fuel this project and their other operations. NewPage appears to be a knowledgeable and respected forestry company.