California to Withdraw Harmful "Carbon Credits for Clearcuts" Forest Policy

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Kevin Bundy, (415) 436-9682 x 313

California to Withdraw Harmful "Carbon Credits for Clearcuts" Forest Policy

SACRAMENTO - In response to a formal legal letter filed by the Center for
Biological Diversity, the California Air Resources Board has proposed
to withdraw its adoption of a “Forest Project Protocol” that would have
allowed logging companies to earn valuable carbon credits for
clearcutting projects and other destructive practices. At its February
25 meeting, the Board will consider reversing its adoption of the
protocol pending a legally required review of environmental impacts to
forests and the climate.

“We commend the Air
Resources Board for acknowledging that it needs to address the
environmental consequences of this misguided forest policy,” said Kevin
Bundy, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is
critical that the state not offer carbon credits for business-as-usual
management by timber companies or, worse, encourage clearcutting and
other destructive logging practices while doing nothing to address the
immediate impacts of climate change.”

In September
2009, the Air Resources Board adopted an updated version of the
protocol that would grant carbon credits to damaging forest-management
projects. The Board’s adoption of the protocol as a methodology for
carbon accounting was the first step toward allowing forest landowners
to accumulate credits for the CO2 stored in trees and forest products.
Polluters would have been able to buy those credits instead of reducing
their own greenhouse gas emissions under AB 32, California’s global
warming law, or other laws requiring mitigation of climate change
impacts.

In November, the Center for Biological
Diversity filed a formal letter demanding that the Board rescind its
adoption of the protocol. The Board had violated the California
Environmental Quality Act, the state’s premier environmental law, by
failing to consider the foreseeable environmental consequences of
adopting the policy. In response to the letter, the Board will consider
withdrawing its adoption of the forest protocol and developing a
process for reviewing the environmental impacts of other similar
protocols.

“Forest clearcutting is a threat to
forest ecosystems, water, and wildlife habitat, and is no solution for
climate change,” said Brian Nowicki, California climate policy director
at the Center. “To avert the worst impacts of climate change, we need
to dramatically reduce emissions now – not give timber companies an
added incentive to continue clearcutting the nation’s forests.”

The Center’s letter to the Air Resources Board can be viewed here.

The agenda for the February 25 Air Resources Board meeting is available here.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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