Pro-logging interests use “Burning Wood is Renewable” as a slogan, a mantra, to assure others all is benign, because it helps save the world, fight global warming, are part of the “solution”, and thus deserves to get subsidies via the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act.


This article will show burning wood is not anywhere near renewable, if the following is accounted for:


1) The A-to-Z sources of CO2

2) Decay of belowground biomass after harvesting

3) Decay of aboveground biomass after harvesting


Sources of CO2 of Logging Sector


All of us need to be on the same page regarding the A-to-Z sources of CO2. Here is a list.


1) Before logging, the logging sector has to be set up, operated, maintained and renewed, which emits CO2, about 3%

2) A wood-burning plant has to be built, which emits CO2; about 2%

3) The logging process includes maintaining the woodlot, culling, harvesting, chipping, and transport to user, which emits CO2, about 8%

4) Operating the plant requires electricity, diesel fuel etc., which emits CO2, about 8%

5) The combustion process emits CO2; in fact, emits more lb/million Btu than coal, about 56%

Coal power plants are up to 44% efficient, New England wood-burning plants about 25%

6) The combustion process emits sub-micron particulates, which requires electricity for air pollution control systems, which emits CO2, about 3%

7) Delivering the heat and electricity to users requires electricity, which emits CO2, about 2%.

8) CO2 is released from:


- Dead wood, 24/7/365; dead wood increased 26.5% in Vermont from 1990 - 2015

- Forest floor litter, 24/7/365,

- Increased decay of belowground biomass, after logging; in cold-climate New England for about 80 - 100 years

- Increased decay of slash, aboveground tree trunks, etc., after logging; in cold-climate NE for about 80 - 100 years


9) Dismantling the old wood-burning plant and replacing it with a new one, 4%


Combustion CO2, about 56% + Decay CO2, about 14%, equals about 70% of all CO2, on an A - Z basis.


The 70% has the possibility of being partially renewable, if the forest were left undisturbed for many decades. See next section.


The other 30% is like all other CO2, i.e., not renewable. That percentage is almost never mentioned by logging proponents, mainly because it would create confusion and dilute the mantra: “Wood Burning is Renewable”.


Here is an explanation regarding Item 8:


Most people are familiar with the logging industry claim, we harvest low value trees for burning, i.e., misshapen, diseased trees, standing deadwood, etc., called net available low grade, NALG, whereas, in fact, that is often not true, based on satellite and drone photos of clearcutting on harvested areas.


Regarding table 1, people may argue about the percentages of each category, but not about the existence of each category.


Table 1






Real World

Sources of CO2



Item 1

Industry set-up, upkeep


Item 2

Plant construction, upkeep


Item 3

Logging process, including soil damage, etc.


Item 4

Plant operation


Item 5




Item 6

Air cleaning


Item 7

Energy delivery to users


Item 8

Increased biomass decay



Item 9

Plant replacement, upkeep






Wood-Burning is NOT Renewable by a Long Shot


The logging industry claim is "wood burning is renewable", and therefore the combustionCO2 should not be counted.

The EPA and IPCC are proponents of this fallacy. They pretend there is no other CO2.


I have written extensively on the CO2 released by decay of belowground biomass, which starts almost immediately after harvesting.

Table 1 shows there are various other sources of biomass decay.


This article has 5 examples of CO2 released by only underground decay



CO2 Release Over Time


In northern climates, it takes about 35 years for the CO2 to get back to neutral after harvesting

The initial CO2 release, due to belowground biomass decay, is very high.

The decay CO2 quantity decreases according to standard decay functions, in NE for a period of about 80 to 100 years. 


Initially, the decay CO2 far exceeds any CO2 absorbed by biomass regrowth on OUR harvested area.

In NE, the debit balance continues for about 17 years, i.e., the harvested area is a source of CO2


But to offset that debit balance, and get back to neutral, regrowth on OUR harvested area needs to take place for another 17 to 18 years


Note, the decay CO2 is entirely independent from 1) combustion CO2, and 2) CO2 other than combustion. See above list and table 1.


- Combustion CO2 of year 1 would have to wait for 35 years to start being absorbed by regrowth on OUR harvested area, which takes about 80 - 100 years.


- All other categories of CO2, due to: 1) logging, 2) chipping, 3) transport, 4) in-plant processing, and 5) plant operations other than combustion, etc., is no different from all other CO2.


CO2 Absorption Cycle

Combustion CO2 is absorbed, under NE conditions, in about 80 to 100 years.

However, the combustion is not absorbed until after about 35 years, the C-neutrality period.

The the entire cycle is about 115 to 135 years!!


Year 1 is the combustion year. See URL for C-neutrality explanation.



When a woodlot is logged, some belowground biomass is killed (clear cutting kills all of it), because it is no longer needed by the trees that were cut. It decays and emits CO2.

The decay process, start to completion, under NE conditions, takes about 80 to 100 years.


While the decay takes place, any new tree growth on OUR harvested areas would offset more and more of the decay CO2, until the new tree growth has completely offset the decay CO2, which, under NE conditions, takes about 35 years.  


After the C-neutrality period, the combustion CO2 of Year 1 (and ongoing decay CO2) would start to be absorbed by the new tree growth on OUR harvested areas.


Interrupting the CO2 Absorption Cycle.


In the real world, the new trees on OUR harvested areas would be cut well before they have had a chance to absorb all the combustion CO2 of Year 1 (and ongoing decay CO2).


In the real world, a logger would come along, would see OUR 40 to 45-year-old trees, and would harvest them; veni, vidi, vici.

Those trees had barely started to absorb OUR combustion CO2!!


There ends the fantasy of “burning wood is renewable”, because there is no spare forest for “our remaining combustion CO2 (and ongoing decay CO2)”. Other forests already are busy absorbing CO2.




OUR combustion CO2 has to be absorbed on OUR harvested areas to be called renewable.


The OTHER CO2, not related to combustion, is similar to any other CO2, for accounting purposes.

The atmosphere, the oceans, and other CO2 sinks would absorb a part of “our remaining combustion CO2” (and ongoing decay CO2)”, as well “our OTHER CO2”.


That absorption would not be by OUR harvested area, and thus not be “renewable”.


The combustion CO2 absorption process, in effect from Year 35 to about Year 45, about 10 years, was ended by the subsequent logging.


The logging industry continues to claim, without blushing: "Burning wood is renewable".













Particulates from Wood Burning


The wood burning sector is major cause of combustion CO2 and other CO2 in NE, plus sub-micron particulates.
Gas, hydro and nuclear have nearly none of such particulates.





VT-CEP Target: 35% of Vermont’s Thermal Energy Demand with Wood Heating by 2030.


Based on the most recent year (2014) of US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data available, wood fuels (both traditional and advanced wood heating, AWH) met an estimated 21% of building heating demand in Vermont in 2014. Going to 35% by 2030 would not only displace oil, but also very-clean-burning propane and to some extent, very-clean-burning natural gas.


More specifically, the 2016 CEP calls for doubling the use of wood heating in Vermont by 2050

See pages 3 and 4 of URL



If wood heating were to increase from 2.5 million MWh of annual thermal energy generation in 2016 to 4.3 million MWh in 2030, significantly more AWH systems and pellet stoves would need to be installed across the residential, commercial, and institutional building market sectors.


The 35% target by 2030 would need the additional installation of:


- 38,905 wood pellet stoves (or about 30% of all single-family homes)

- 10,519 bulk pellet fueled boilers (or about 16% of all single-family homes with

centralized hydronic heat distribution networks)

- 2,574 pellet boilers in small commercial buildings (or about 6% of that market


- 221 woodchip boilers in larger commercial/institutional buildings and district heating

plants (or about 4% of that market segment).


Where is that wood going to come from?


Presently, Vermont obtains all of its annual harvest from about 2.2 million AVAILABLE acres, even though VT has 4.5 million acres of timberland. The rest is unavailable for many reasons.


The ANNUAL biomass growth on the 2.2 million acres is about equal to Vermont’s ANNUAL harvests; i.e., VT harvesting is maxed out!!!


However, Vermont’s national and state forests, heretofore mostly OFF LIMITS, are now going to be harvested big time, according to plans on file with the US Forest Service. Here are some websites for your information.


Government bureaucrats and logging proponents often claim there is little clearcutting in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

That is not true, based on-site inspections, and satellite and drone surveillance.

Just Google and you will find plenty of clearcutting all over the place, including in national and state forests.



Widespread Clearcutting Disastrous for Forests


Vermont Clearcutting


Here are some random Google Earth images of clearcutting in Vermont, before the proposed logging and clearcutting of the Green Mountain National Forest, GMNF.



As you look through the plans, at the list of proposed acreage of each logging type, in each plan, it is worth noting “group selection” in USFS timberspeak, is simply a bunch of “smaller” one to two football field sized clearcuts, not in any sense what people think of when they think of “selective” logging.  An example can be seen on page 15 of URL



Also, the 15-year GMNF plan is set to expire in 2021. GMNF is pushing these long-term, “programmatic” projects to essentially tie its own hands, before it gets around to revising its Forest Plan. These projects have the real danger of pre-allocating lands to active management (including portions of inventoried roadless areas) before the forest goes through a proper Forest Plan revision process.

GMNF is rushing to get these projects done while the current administration is in office. See URL



New Hampshire Clearcutting


Here are some random Google Earth images of clearcutting in the White Mountain National Forest, in NH, similar to what is planned now for the GMNF, though the plans for GMNF appear got be even more aggressive.  



For a view of what the logging will look like, see the identical “vegetation treatments” in White Mountain National Forest in NH



Massachusetts Clearcutting


Much of Maine has already been heavily cutover, and I don’t have any images of that, but in this report, the green areas show forests with greater biomass (i.e., larger trees), where much new logging is being targeted 



Lots of Clearcutting Coming to GMNF 


15,000 acres, 12,000 acres of it is clearcutting



About 6700 acres more logging in GMNF



Thousands more acres here



Look at the logging on just this one "project":



Burning Wood is NOT Clean


Regarding the "cleanliness" of wood...



High Asthma Rates in Vermont


Vermont already has some of the highest asthma rates in the country



Oregon, the Paragon of Clearcutting


And for twice the fun, for anyone interested just to see how bad an unchecked logging industry can get, see this video from Oregon:














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Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."


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