In many states it’s three strikes and you’re out. Harsh penalties for repeat offenders. But in Oregon, you can be cited eleven times in six years for violating laws meant to protect soil and water from clearcuts, slapped with trivial fines, and walk out the door to do it again. And despite your recklessness with the law, you can still win a sustainability seal of approval from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). As an organization that promotes sustainable brands as a way to reduce humanity’s footprint, CSE feels compelled to fight this flagrant abuse of green labeling.
The Center for Sustainable Economy has filed a formal complaint with the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) for breaking its own rules by continuing to provide its seal of approval to Plum Creek Timberland, LP in Oregon despite a pattern of willful non-compliance with the law and clearcuts that have left extensive resource damage on the ground. “A sustainability certification should be reserved for practices that meet the highest standard of excellence, not those that warrant jail time,” said Dr. John Talberth, the Center’s President and Senior Economist. “Plum Creek and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative are doing a grave disservice to consumers and investors alike who want to make responsible buying and investment choices but are instead told that illegal logging is somehow good for the Earth.”
In the past six years, Plum Creek has received 11 civil penalties from the Oregon Department of Forestry for violations related to clearcut size, logging in riparian zones, and improper notifications of impending logging operations. Detailed satellite imagery provided by Google Earth and appended to the complaint shows that these illegal practices have left Plum Creek lands scarred by major landslides and streams filled with debris.
In its complaint, CSE has asked for an immediate suspension of SFI certification for Plum Creek, an investigation into the full extent of legal violations, and notifications to both the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission about Plum Creek’s unwarranted use of the SFI label in connection with its Oregon operations. CSE has also asked SFI to disqualify Bureau Veritas Certification North America, Inc., as a credible SFI auditor of Plum Creek timberlands for failing to conduct due diligence in researching Plum Creek’s record of consistency with SFI principles or compliance with the law in Oregon.
For a copy of CSE’s Plum Creek Inconsistent Practices Complaint, click here to visit our project page.