A fight over carbon in California


The Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona environmental group, has been very busy lately suing government agencies. Over the course of a few days, the group filed a notice to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its cleanup of toxins on a Pacific Ocean atoll, sued the state of California over its fish hatchery program and then sued California again, this time filing seven lawsuits over the state’s management plan for private forests.

The lawsuits regarding California’s forest plan trouble us the most because they fly in the face of years of work and research, with lots of input from environmental groups, on how to manage the forests. They also pose a further threat to a timber industry that has seen better days but has worked with all the appropriate parties to come up with a forest management plans that works.

The lawsuits claim that the state approved the forest projects “without properly analyzing carbon emissions and climate consequences under the California Environmental Quality Act,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Basically the center believes that harvesting forests emits more carbon than it saves, while the state has plenty of data to back up the fact that responsible harvesting of trees helps sequester carbon and combat global warming.

The California Forestry Association posted a response to the lawsuits, which is excerpted below:

There is a wealth of scientific evidence that active forest management provides greater carbon sequestration benefits than a hands-off, preservation approach…Increased forest management has also been shown to reduce wildfire severity and the emissions and other environmental consequences associated with high-intensity wildfire.

The court will ultimately decide whether the California Dept. of Forestry performed proper due diligence in approving the timber harvest plans in question, but the carbon sequestration benefit of active forest management on private land should no longer be in doubt given the exhaustive efforts of CARB and the Environmental Protection agency to analyze and demonstrate the sequestration benefit already being provided by the forestry sector.

By continuing to file lawsuits with a singular objective using multiple tactics and thereby obstructing fuel-reduction efforts and sustainable forestry practices, the (Center for Biological Diversity) has proven its focus lies squarely with advancing a preservationist agenda rather than conserving natural resources. With California’s forestry infrastructure in decline and the cost of fuel reduction and wildland firefighting increasing as a result, it is time for California’s courts and legislators to put an end to out-of-state lawsuits that clearly are inconsistent with the best interests (of) California’s environment and communities.