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PFI urges state governors to exempt pellet production from shutdowns

In the United States, the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) has called on governors of wood pellet producing states to align their essential business policies with those outlined as “essential critical infrastructure” by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“We were pleased to see the DHS recognize the critical importance of the broader forest products industry but what isn’t clear is how close to these recommendations individual states will hew,” said Tim Portz, Executive Director, PFI.

In the United States (US), Tim Portz, Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) has called on governors of wood pellet producing states to align their essential business policies with those outlined as “essential critical infrastructure” by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Pellet producers would be eligible to continue operations if states decide to restrict or close non-essential businesses in their efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Om March 24, 2020, the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI), a US trade association representing the manufacturers of wood pellets and the companies and organizations that support them, sent letters to the governors of wood pellet producing states urging them to align their essential business policies with those outlined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In that advisory released on March 19, 2020, the DHS classified “workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products” as “essential critical infrastructure workforce” and eligible to continue operations if states decide to restrict or close non-essential businesses in their efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

We were pleased to see the DHS recognize the critical importance of the broader forest products industry but what isn’t clear is how close to these recommendations individual states will hew. Year-round production is required to meet the seasonal heating demand and we wanted to make sure governors understood that, said Tim Portz, Executive Director of PFI.

In March and April of 2019, nearly 300 000 tons of heating pellets were produced, almost 15 percent of the year’s total volume.

For two years the sector has emerged from the heating season with very low inventory numbers. Constraining production now would impact pellet availability for the 2020-21 heating season, said Tim Portz.

The PFI will continue to work with its colleagues in the forest products industry to maintain the safe operation of wood pellet manufacturing sites to ensure the availability of this critical heating fuel this fall and winter.

Our members are already deploying measures to protect their employees. Practicing social distancing at a wood pellet manufacturing site isn’t difficult but our members are going beyond that and moving to contact-free transactions for inbound and outbound trucks, increased cleaning protocols and control screen wipes down measures between shifts, ended Tim Portz.

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