CBC’s “The Fifth Estate” did a documentary on wood pellets, focussing on the DRAX operation in the UK, where the company had converted a coal-fired power plant into a wood pellet biomass power generation plant, and DRAX has wood pellet sourcing and processing operations in British Columbia.
This video explores the shoddy reporting of CBC and does not represent any industry, nor does it speak for any corporation. Our Communications Manager, Michelle Stirling, was appalled at the lack of context in the program and the apparent intent to ruin the reputation of an international trade partner and a critical supplier of energy to the UK power grid. (NOTE: We do NOT represent any industry – this is a personal initiative of Michelle Stirling, approved by our board.)
The COP-27 climate conference is coming up in Egypt in November 2022 and climate activists like to ‘stir the pot’ on a topic in advance of such events to try and sway policy makers to their climate agenda. But the fact is that the UK and all of Europe are facing a critical shortage of energy for this winter and beyond.
People’s live are literally at stake. Stirling deconstructs “The Fifth Estate’s” program “The Big Burn” and notes that this seemed to be a coordinated effort, with BBC running a similar documentary day earlier, and then Greenpeace climbing on the bandwagon a few days after, and now the foreign-funded, US based “Stand.Earth” in Canada is also attacking the company. The main premise of the attack is the claim that DRAX does not use all the ‘slash’ (left over wood from a clear cut) and is seen to have whole logs at a facility. Wood pellets are made from the waste of whole logs.
“The Fifth Estate” never explains the wood pellet process and sourcing, though this information is readily available on the internet and shown in this video. Likewise, there is an independent audit of the DRAX operation that confirms that waste wood is used in the process – CBC, with its more than $1 billion annual budget, somehow could not find that research…. but Michelle Stirling, working within Friends of Science Society’s miniscule budget, found this important contextual and factual information in the space of a couple of hours of online research.
In The Fifth Estate documentary, one of the DRAX people explains that the slash left on a hilltop is too far from a processing facility to be economic to transport, AND that DRAX did not and does not do the cutting of the forests themselves, The Fifth Estate reporter and the activist they follow seize upon this apparent discrepancy as ‘proof’ that it is ‘all a lie’ that wood pellets are made from refuse, slash, or other waste wood that is unsuitable for conventional purposes.
The program also fails to mention that British Columbia has a massive problem with dead forests killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle. So, the DRAX wood pellet arrangement with BC is actually reducing the BC’s wildfire risk and costs by recycling this deadwood into useable pellets and actually paying the province taxes and revenues, while creating a lot of jobs in rural and remote areas.
The style of reputational attack on the wood pellet industry is similar to the Tar Sands Campaign against Alberta, according to Stirling. It is curious that the tax-funded CBC seems obsessed with putting tax-paying workers and industries out of business, and sentencing people to heat-or-eat poverty in a time of a global energy crisis.
See what you think of this deconstruction.