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For Immediate Release, February 25, 2010

Contact: Brian Nowicki, (916) 201-6938

California Withdraws Harmful "Carbon Credits for Clearcuts" Forest Policy

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The California Air Resources Board voted today to withdraw the “Forest Project Protocol” that would have allowed logging companies to earn valuable carbon credits for forest clearcutting and other destructive practices. It also committed to a review of environmental impacts to forests and the climate.

The withdrawal came in response to a formal legal letter submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity in November that said 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.

“We commend the Air Resources Board for its commitment to addressing the critical environmental questions related to forest carbon credits,” said Brian Nowicki, California climate policy director at the Center. “It’s crucial that the state not give incentives to business-as-usual clearcutting and other destructive logging practices that hurt our forests and do nothing to address the immediate impacts of climate change.”

In September 2009, the Air Resources Board had adopted an updated version of the harmful 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.

“Forest clearcutting is a threat to forest ecosystems, water, and wildlife habitat, and is no solution for climate change,” said Nowicki. “To avert the worst impacts of climate change, we need to dramatically reduce emissions now – not give timber companies more reasons to keep liquidating America’s forests.”

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

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