Economic and environmental strain affects rural Mississippi amid renewable energy push

Economic challenges and environmental worries collide as Mississippi towns turn to the burgeoning wood pellet industry in a bid to revive local economies.

Alex Rozier reports for Mississippi Today.


In short:

  • Rural Mississippi towns are transitioning to wood pellet production as a new economic avenue following factory closures and job losses.
  • The industry, while providing jobs and investments, faces criticism for environmental concerns and potential health impacts on local communities.
  • Local economies benefit financially from the plants, but residents raise serious concerns about air quality and the long-term environmental damage.

Key quote:

"We have become a sacrifice zone, and we feel like you don't care about us as people. You are willing to pollute our community and extract our natural resources for your own economic gain."

— Krystal Martin, Gloster native and activist

Why this matters:

Wood pellet facilities emit pollutants such as particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen oxides, which can degrade air quality and pose health risks to nearby residents. Concerns about respiratory issues and exacerbation of conditions like asthma are particularly salient in communities near these facilities.

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