International Paper is receiving IRS money (a tax rebate) from the US Government because it is burning black liquor? Black liquor is the left over from the biomass of trees during the kraft (chemical) pulping process. The paper industry likes to look it as a waste products, but most pulp mills, perhaps all, see it as an integral energy source and most would not be able to run without it as a source, economically speaking.
There are several problems with this:
There is no question that this fuel source is not sustainable, green or anything of the sort. It certainly has carbon dioxide, N2O and methane emissions. But look at how a forest industry blog talks about it (emphasis mine):
International Paper is mixing diesel fuel in with the black liquor at a rate of .5gpm. While this does not add much BTU value to the black liquor, it does classify it as another green fuel because it generating power and not emitting anything to the environment. By classifying it as another green fuel, International Paper gets a tax credit for every .5gpm burned for every one gallon of black liquor burned.So, the government has been convinced that this is 'green fuel' and at least some in the paper industry are convinced this has no 'emissions'.
Of course it has emissions: International Paper took trees clearcut from forests or plantations and burned them in their mill for energy. Those trees' carbon molecules are now carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It will take some decades for this forest or plantation to get back to the carbon level where it started... whereas if we did not harvest that forest, we would have all that carbon sequestered safely in the trees, plus the additional carbon that would have been sequestered in the meantime.
Let's not forget that IP gets a lot of its wood from high conservation value forests, natural forests converted to plantations, and similar areas. Moreover, many of its sources of wood are not even certified under the lax and toothless environmental marketing program, the SFI.
This is an insane policy by the US Government. It's gone past greenwashing for the virgin paper industry and gone into straight payouts for destroying forests. Wow.
More on this from a paper union newsletter (on the last page).
By classifying it as another green fuel, the Company gets a tax credit for every .5gpm burned for every one gallon of black liquor burned. This equals out to approximately $385 per minute, and over $130 million dollars a year at this mill alone! Every recovery unit in MeadWestvaco is now do-ing this.
The US government, the American people, are subsidizing the burning of trees and chemicals in order to make packaging and junk mail.