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For Immediate Release, September 30, 2009

Contact: Brian Nowicki, Center for Biological Diversity, (916) 201-6938

California's Biggest Forest Clearcutter First in Line for Carbon Credit Money
Sierra Pacific Industries Announces Forest Carbon Offset Deal Under New California Rules

LOS ANGELES— Sierra Pacific Industries, the largest private landowner and timber operator in California, known for forest clearcutting in the Sierra Nevada and northern forests, today announced a deal that would pay them for carbon credits based on their forest lands. The deal was announced at Governor Schwarzenegger’s international conference on climate change in Los Angeles.

“This looks a whole lot like a giant timber company getting paid millions of dollars to do business-as-usual, and destroying our forests, water quality, and wildlife in the process,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Giving carbon credits for logging operations is a shell game where timber companies win, and the forest, the climate, and everyone else loses.”

The deal announced today is based on last week’s decision by the California Air Resources Board to adopt a set of protocols for assessing the carbon impacts of forest practices, including a measure that would allow forest clearcutting to qualify for carbon credits as part of California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The board heard testimony from numerous conservation organizations opposed to the provision, asking the board to postpone the decision to allow time to consider the environmental impacts of the rule. However, it board voted unanimously to immediately adopt the protocols with the clearcutting provision included.

“This explains why everybody was so anxious to adopt the forest protocols last week and totally ignore the obvious problems regarding forest clearcutting,” said Nowicki. “Giving carbon credits for clearcutting calls into serious question the integrity of California’s forest carbon program and, in fact, raises serious concerns over the state’s commitment to achieving real reductions in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Today’s announcement was a joint venture by Sierra Pacific and Equator, a forest carbon trading firm. The deal covers “some 60,000 acres of SPI’s private timberland in California,” and claims the company will sequester “an additional 1,500,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next five years in excess of what would have otherwise occurred.” The announcement contained few details but offered no indication that forest clearcutting and plantation forestry, which degrade forest ecosystems, would not be included in the deal.

The conservation group letter regarding the forest clearcutting provision of the protocols is available at:

The forest protocols are available at:


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