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For Immediate Release, February 12, 2010

Contact: Kevin Bundy, (415) 436-9682 x 313

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— 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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