In the name of renewable energy, the British government is subsidizing the clear-cutting of the American Southeast. Image courtesy of Saul Elbein. United States, 2018.
In the name of renewable energy, the British government is subsidizing the clear-cutting of the American Southeast. Image courtesy of Saul Elbein. United States, 2018.

The American Southeast is the home of one of the most biodiverse, ecologically crucial—and heavily damaged—forests on the continent. In 2009, an unintended loophole in EU policy led to over a billion in annual subsidies for Drax Power station, a British coal plant switching to "renewable" energy from wood. Those subsidies has have financed the clear-cutting of huge tracts of Southern forests that would otherwise have been left undisturbed.

Now, both Drax and and landowners in forests themselves are locked in a race: Drax, to secure total vertical integration of the Southern Appalachian forests before its subsidies expire; the landowners, to stop it.

This is the story of the dark consequences of green policy, and of people trying to roll them back before the forest collapses.

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