BURNED: Are Trees the New Coal?

BURNED tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel
Alan Dater
Year Released
Film Length(s)
74 mins
Remote video URL


BURNED tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel, and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and blatant green washing of the burgeoning biomass power industry. Forest activists, ecologists, and concerned citizens fight to protect the forests and their communities, and debunk this false solution to climate change.

Featured review

This film received a powerful and passionate response from our audience and they voted it our Audience Choice Award winner this year.
American Conservation Film Festival
American Conservation Film Festival


Building on the accepted science that climate change is real and caused by human activity, BURNED: Are Trees the New Coal? takes a hard look at the latest false solution to humanity’s vast energy appetite: woody biomass. The film tells the story of how woody biomass has become the alternative-energy savior for the power-generation industry and of the people and parties who are both promoting and fighting its adoption and use.

Using interviews with experts, activists, and citizens, along with verité-style footage shot across the US and in the EU and UK, the film interweaves the science of climate change, the escalating energy-policy disputes, the dynamics of forest ecology, the industry practices, and the actions of activists and citizens who are working to protect their own health, their communities, the forest, and the planet’s climate. Woven together, the various stories present an intimate and visceral account of what is at this moment in time a critical, yet somewhat unknown, national and international controversy.


[BURNED] does a wonderful job illuminating the biomass issues here in the U.S.
Heather Hillaker
Associate Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center
Is it fair to call something renewable if you're removing it faster than it can be replenished? This sobering film argues no, pointing to carbon impacts of a recent surge in wood-pellet production and burning that's feeding the burgeoning biomass industry . . . BURNED argues for considering the broader climate impacts of subsidizing a practice that, left unchecked, could ravage more forests than can afford to be lost.
Yale Climate Connections
Yale Climate Connections
This film reviews and applies so, so much of what I teach in earth science to real world, relevant issues. While obviously highlighting the short-sighted and economically driven push for burning biomass as a 'solution' to CO2 emissions, it reveals how it is indeed possible to manipulate well-intended environmental mandates in ways that end up doing more damage than good. Students can conclude that we, as the general public, need to be actively aware of what is going on and willing to get involved and spread awareness.
Sarah Geborkoff
7th & 8th Grade Earth Science Teacher, Houghton, MI

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