‘Burned: Are Trees the New Coal?’ to screen at Latchis Theatre

BRATTLEBORO — Marlboro Productions will present their feature-length environmental documentary Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro in two screenings: Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 24, at 4 p.m.

According to a news release. the screenings are “part of the Burned Barnstorming Tour, a nationwide grassroots media campaign to expose the biomass electric power industry's destructive forest, energy, and climate practices.”

Following the screenings, there will be a Q&A with local filmmakers Lisa Merton, Alan Dater, and Chris Hardee.

According to the filmmakers, Burned “probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and blatant greenwashing of the burgeoning biomass power industry” while a “dedicated group of forest activists, ecologists, carbon scientists, and concerned citizens fight to establish the enormous value of our forests, protect their communities, debunk this false solution to climate change.”

The subject piqued the interest of Dater and Merton when they first learned about the biomass pellet industry in the southeastern U.S., and the enormous quantity of pelletized trees that are being shipped to power plants in the U.K. and the European Union for the generation of electricity.

They then started investigating biomass power plants around the country, including the Burgess Biopower facility in Berlin, N.H., and the L'Anse Warden biomass electric facility in L'Anse, Mich., both documented in the film.

Throughout the country, forests and whole trees are being clearcut, chipped, and pelletized, the filmmakers say and, under policy loopholes, biomass is being substituted for coal and labeled clean, green, renewable, and carbon neutral.

However, the science shows that biomass produces 50 percent more CO2 pollution per unit of energy than the coal it's replacing. The biomass power industry is burning trees at a 25 percent efficiency rate despite the fact that trees sequester carbon better than any technology yet invented.

Burned has been selected by a number of film festivals including the American Conservation Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, the Utopia Film Festival, and the VT International Film Festival, as well as others.

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