WEAVERVILLE, Calif. (CN) – The Center for Biological Diversity has launched a legal offensive against clear-cutting in Northern California forests. The center has filed seven state lawsuits, challenging the California Department of Forestry’s approval of 15 logging plans that would allow Sierra Pacific Industries to clear cut 5,000 acres.
The agency is violating state laws that set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets by failing to properly analyze emissions from the logging plans, which would come to thousands of pounds, the center claims.
The center says that after three similar lawsuits in August last year, Sierra Pacific withdrew plans to clear-cut 1,600 acres.
“Rather than attempt to defend the indefensible, Sierra Pacific Industries wisely retreated from this fight,” Brendan Cummings, public lands director for the center, said in a statement.
The seven lawsuits filed this year in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Modoc, Shasta, Tehama and Trinity County courts, allege that greenhouse gas analyses lack site-specific calculations, lowball emissions estimates based on false assumptions and fail to mitigate short-term emissions from the logging.
Forests act as carbon banks, and with greenhouse gases at already dangerous concentrations, clear-cutting must be stopped to prevent carbon dioxide emissions, which can reduce the Sierra snow pack and cause sea levels to rise, the environmental group says.
Represented by Justin Augustine in San Francisco, the center seeks injunctive relief to stop the 15 logging plans in the Sierra Pacific and Cascade ranges. Sierra Pacific allegedly has several dozen more such plans in the wings.
Sierra Pacific Industries, the largest private owner of forest land in the state, promotes itself as a green company, stating that it is committed to “sustainable forest management.”