Clear-Cutting Challenged in California

REDDING, Calif. (CN) – The Center for Biological Diversity sued the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for approving a Sierra Pacific Industry clear-cutting plan. The environmental group claims the plan to log Bear Canyon failed to identify, calculate and evaluate global warming and greenhouse gas effects.

     Clear-cutting releases more carbon into the atmosphere than other logging methods, and in this case will “release thousands of tons” of carbon dioxide, by the defendants’ own admissions, according to the complaint.
     Nonetheless, Sierra Pacific and the Department of Forestry claimed that “the emissions were less than significant,” and “failed to include any meaningful or enforceable mitigation measures,” according to the complaint.
     Failing to mitigate or avoid significant environmental impacts violates the California Environmental Quality Act.
     “However, rather than attempt to calculate the carbon emissions that would result from Sierra Pacific Industries’ actual logging plan, the Department of Forestry simply asserted that over a 100-year time frame enough trees would grow back on the company’s lands to render the logging carbon neutral,” the environmental group said in a statement.
     Redding is the home of Sierra Pacific, which owns more than 1 million acres and runs diversified companies in millwork, doors, co-generation plants that recycle wood waste into energy, and commercial real estate. It is owned and operated by A. A. “Red” Emmerson, a consistent name on Forbes magazine list of the world’s richest people. Despite the recession and legal battles with environment groups, Sierra Pacific is a $1 billion a year business.
     The complaint was filed March 11 in Shasta County Superior Court, but records have not been available to the public, as each judge reviewed the file and recused himself. The petition is expected to be heard by a retired judge, Jack Halpin, who will preside over a status hearing on July 20.
     The Center for Biological Diversity is represented by Justin Augustine of its San Francisco office, with co-counsel of Jan Chatten-Brown of Chatten-Brown & Carstens of Santa Monica.

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