Chip mills are driving up logging in North Carolina, according to early results from a two-year government-commissioned study of the mills’ environmental and economic impact. About 140 chip mills have opened up in the South in the past decade, and enviros say they are dramatically changing the timber industry, leading to increased clear-cutting, and enticing landowners to sell trees before they reach maturity. The mills, which grind up logs into chips the size of postage stamps, have polarized nearby communities and fueled long-running political debates. Authors of the study predict that over the next decade, hardwood trees in the mountains of North Carolina will be cut faster than they grow. An editorial in the Chattanooga Times calls on Vice Pres. Al Gore to help “control the massive clear-cutting now threatening Southern forests.”