McNeil & Co firm on closure of Boat Harbour, vague on plan B (Biomass, Biofuel, Biorefinery and Bioeconomy)

The government should be explicit (public and transparent) about the options it is exploring and talk to more than just the advocates for Biomass, Biofuel, a Biorefinery and the Bioeconomy before taking us further down that path

Plan B: Biomass, Biofuel, Biorefinery and Bioeconomy?
“The exponential growth of the bioeconomy is a global threat. Instead of contributing to climate mitigation, bioenergy and ‘bio’ products keep energy generation locked-in to the carbon cycle, decrease the amount of land available for food crops, drive land-grabs, and decimate forests – our most efficient carbon sinks.” – Global Forest Coalition

Update/Comment Dec 15, 2018:
The Forest Biorefinery Concept

No ‘Plan B’ for potential shutdown of Northern Pulp mill, minister says. So reads a Canadian Press item in The Star (Dec 13, 2018):

Premier Stephen McNeil reiterated Thursday that his government has no intention of backing away from its deadline.

McNeil said it would look at options to help diversify the forest industry as a whole, but he wasn’t specific.

“We expect them (Northern Pulp) to meet that deadline. If they don’t we will continue to look at how do we best diversify the sector.”

A CBC story provides some thoughts of Mcneil and Rankin about “the residual stuff”:

“The [forestry] sector has been built and these [sawmills] have been built on being able to sell those residuals back into some of our paper mills. That’s going to be a challenge if something happens in Pictou,” said McNeil.

“We understand the challenges associated with mills and we’re working hard to see what to do with the residual stuff.”

…Rankin said that while the government is willing to work with industry to find new markets for products that right now are destined for Northern Pulp, he “philosophically” does not believe it should be the government leading those efforts.

However, as noted in my last post, L&F wants to hire a “Manager, Innovation & Business Development” who ” will work directly with private sector businesses with a core focus on development of innovative technologies and processes within the natural resources industry…[and] create and implement bio-economy action plans and programs to encourage innovative ways to increase the value of harvested forest products by creating higher-end processing and products”.

Then there is the news that “The province is changing environmental assessment regulations for small oil refineries after receiving inquiries about the production of hydrocarbons from wood fibre…” (N.S. adjusts refinery environmental assessment regulations, Stuart Peddle in the CH Dec 12, 2018 – subscription required).

So it sounds like there is a plan B – at least to the Company Men in L&F, and B stands for Biomass, Biofuel, Biorefinery and Bioeconomy. Perhaps McNeil and Rankin don’t know about it yet.

Like pulp mills, Plan B is not going to run 24/7 on thinnings from ecologically managed forests and the occasional clearcut.

Like pulp mills combined with clearcutting, Plan B combined with clearcutting would keep sawlog prices down for the big sawmills, at least until all of the big trees are gone.  Under the Biorefinery Plan, the sawmill industry is condensed early on anyway. I guess after the big trees are gone,  we can build using synthetic wood made from bio-fibres produced at the biorefinery from low value wood. Displaced wildlife goes to Hope for Wildlife and Protected Areas.


Dec 15, 2018: Update/Comment on the Forest Biorefinery Concept,

The Forest Biorefinery Concept, is largely still that; a concept, that has yet to be proven. View

Ten years on, forest biorefinery a “modest success” (Shaun. L. Turriff for Canadian Biomass Mar 3, 2015).

This is the big league big time and as noted in the article,

One of the more sobering moments in Axegård’s presentation, despite his own declared optimism, came as a reminder of the timelines associated with this sort of new product and process development. The LignoBoost lignin extraction process, his example, was conceived in 1996, and commercialized in 2013, some 17 years later. This was a timely reminder — just five years ago, when this conference first began, many industry experts were claiming that much of the biorefining technology being discussed then was still 10 to 15 years from commercialization.

As I see it, Nova Scotia (going back to Dexter and the Nova Scotia Hub Initiative) is being bilked to help support its development which requires an order of magnitude or two more $ and expertise than are available in NS. So, if it’s finally successful, what are the chances that will occur in NS? And you can bet, were it successful, the pressure to clearcut to keep it “competitive” would only intensify.

Ironically, the concept is to make use of all products from the pulping process (or a similar process), including lignins, so there would probably be no need for a Pipe. However, the cost to our forests and the rest of us – if it ever reached fruition in Nova Scotia – would be immense. Time for a reality check. At least the government should be explicit (public and transparent) about the options it is exploring and talk to more than just the advocates for Biomass, Biofuel, a Biorefinery and the Bioeconomy before taking us further down that path.


Some NSFN posts related to Plan B:

Allan Eddy retains interests in biomass
May 11, 2018

Cellufuel wants access to Nova Scotia’s “Inactive Forests”
August 2, 2017

Are biofuels from Nova Scotia forests good for the environment? Show us the science!
May 4, 2017

Nova Scotia’s Biorefinery Plan cites full-tree harvesting, other requirements to make it competitive
February 22, 2017. “Nova Scotia’s Biorefinery Plan cites a condensed softwood sawmill industry, full-tree harvesting, a 2+% mandate for biodiesel, slacker Allowable Gross Vehicle Weight regulations to make it competitive, but is vague on role of primary forest biomass and short on carbon accounting; senior NSDNR bureaucrats have been directly involved in developing the plan.”

Nova Scotia’s Biofuel Bonanza
January 27, 2017

Progress Report did not highlight key priorities in NSDNR Business Plan
Sep 2, 2016

What is this hub? Who, exactly, is receiving the money? And why is Emera investing so heavily?July 9, 2016

Bio-based fuels from our forests?
July 7, 2016

Also view:
Life after pulp: energy miracles, jobs, and other Nova Scotia government delusions
Linda Pannozzo in the Halifax Examiner, May 5, 2017.

Bioeconomy Day of Action – 7 November 2018
Environmental Paper Network. “The industrialisation of the Bioeconomy poses risks to the climate, the environment, and people”

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