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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

'Buy Local, Burn Local': How Heating With Wood Supports Vermont's Economy

Firewood stacked in a shed.
Emily Corwin
To answer this month's listener question about wood heat, 'Brave Little State' explores wood heat technologies, air quality, forestry practices and carbon emissions.

“What are the environmental and economic benefits of wood heat in Vermont? And then what are the costs to that?” That question comes to Brave Little State from Coco Moseley of Lincoln, who – like many Vermonters – heats her family’s home with an antique wood stove.

To answer Coco’s question, Brave Little State host Angela Evancie and investigative reporter Emily Corwin spoke with loggers, a forest ecosystem scientist, a public health researcher, and visited Goddard College’s massive state-of-the-art wood chip boiler plant.

Wood heating, it turns out, is such a complex issue that Evancie and Corwin ended up playing "good cop, bad cop" as a way to explore the pros and cons.

One of the more enthusiastic proponents of wood heat is Emma Hanson, the wood energy coordinator at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. She said wood heat keeps money in the Vermont economy.

“My favorite thing to point out when I'm talking about wood heat in Vermont is that when Vermonters heat with fossil fuel, 78 cents of every dollar leaves the state,” Hanson said. “Whereas when we heat with locally sourced wood, the inverse of that is true. So all that money stays right here in our communities, creating jobs for our neighbors, retaining local wealth. It's all those fuzzy, feel-good things you get when you buy produce from the farmers market, same idea.”

Hanson said that heating with wood is also often cheaper, especially when it's harvested from your backyard.

Listen to an excerpt of this episode from VPR's people-powered podcast above.

Catch the full Brave Little State episode here.

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