Semester of Graduation

Fall 2019


Master of Science (MS)


Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type



This thesis research provides insight into the wood pellet manufacturing industry from the perspectives of residents in the US South, focusing on environmental, social, and economic constructs. The region is the largest producer and exporter of wood pellets in the world. The focus of previous research on wood pellets has focused on environmental, energy, and economic attributes. This study is the first of its kind to expand the research to investigate in-depth socio-economic dynamics and fill a general gap in knowledge of the relationship between the wood pellet industry and public supply-side issues in the region. Two rounds of a web-based survey were sent to 7,500 residents in the two pellet-producing sub-regions within the US South: the Gulf Coast (Louisiana & Mississippi) and the Atlantic Coast (South Carolina, North Carolina, & Virginia). Within these regions, surveys were sent to randomly selected residents, by zip code, 18 years or older, who live within a 50-mile radius of selected pellet mills or in the two largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) within each state containing a selected pellet mill. Comparisons were made between 1) urban (MSA) and rural areas (50-mile radius from a pellet manufacturer mill) and 2) Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast regions. Compared to urban respondents, rural respondents were overall more accepting of the wood pellet industry and its environmental, social, and economic impacts. Overall, Gulf Coast respondents were more accepting to this sector than Atlantic Coast respondents. Policy makers in the formation of public policy and industry to evaluate their current and future potential effects in the Southern Region can use the implications of this study.

Committee Chair

Vlosky, Richard