Thursday, March 31, 2011

NYTimes Looks into the "Influence Industry" and Its Work for Indonesian Paper Companies

The NYTimes is reporting today in the first mainstream article on an issue that the Paper Planet has been following for some time.  The article details how the Indonesian paper industry is using the Tea Party to influence the U.S government, including through groups like the Institute for Liberty run by Andrew Langer.  A paper industry blogger had earlier this year dubbed it, "red-white-and-bluewashing."

"a Tea Party group in the United States, the Institute for Liberty, has vigorously defended the freedom of a giant Indonesian paper company to sell its wares to Americans without paying tariffs. The institute set up Web sites, published reports and organized a petition drive attacking American businesses, unions and environmentalists critical of the company, Asia Pulp & Paper."
The article goes on to discuss where the funding for sudden efforts to advocate for issues important to Indonesian paper companies has come from, but because of their ability to hide the source, and to plead ignorance because they money came through a PR firm or some other third party, they can deny any direct connection to Asia Pulp & Paper.  
"Mr. Langer would not say who financed his Indonesian paper initiative. But his sudden interest in the issue coincided with a public relations push by Asia Pulp & Paper. And the institute’s work is remarkably similar to that produced by one of the company’s consultants, a former Australian diplomat named Alan Oxley who works closely with a Washington public affairs firm known for creating corporate campaigns presented as grass-roots efforts."
Greenpeace USA, a member of Environmental Paper Network and a target of Mr. Langer's attacks on has it right when they say in the article, 
“If you can spend as much money as you want and remain anonymous, then it doesn’t matter if you’re an overseas company or the Koch brothers, you pay the same network of anti-regulatory front groups” 
Read more here.... 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New NRDC Campaign Says Our Forests Aren't Fuel

NRDC has a new campaign called, Our Forests Aren't Fuel, which targets U.S. government policies that could unwisely incentivize diminishment of our nations forests for the sake of producing energy,  instead of investing in truly renewable energy solutions.  Here's some reason why from NRDC and a one minute video:

The Impacts
There are three main reasons we should be very concerned about how biomass for electricity is produced, and whether it comes from forests or other sources.
  • Forest Destruction
    You can plant new trees, but forests aren't 'renewable'. Natural forests, with their complex ecosystems, cannot be regrown like a crop of beans or lettuce. And tree plantations will never provide the clean water, storm buffers, wildlife habitat, and other ecosystem services that natural forests do.
  • Climate Change
    Tree loss is responsible for twenty percent of the carbon pollution produced globally. When biomass is harvested from forests, carbon stored in the soil is released into the atmosphere. This is in addition to the carbon that is emitted when the wood is burned for energy. And there's no guarantee the lost trees will ever be replaced. In the meantime, all that carbon pollution directly contributes to climate change. The entire lifecycle of biomass energy -- harvesting, transporting, processing, and regrowing -- factors into its total carbon emissions. Only biomass that is carefully chosen, grown responsibly, and efficiently converted into energy can reduce carbon and other emissions compared to fossil fuels.
  • Air Pollution
    Like burning coal or anything else, burning biomass produces harmful air pollution. Burning biomass produces sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and a variety of toxic substances. These pollutants increase the incidence of asthma, heart disease, lung cancer and other respiratory ailments, and premature death. And whether they come from burning coal or burning forests, these substances pollute the air and harm people's health.

For more information and to take action visit:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

U.S. Paper Industry Responds to Calls for Greater Responsibility with New Goals

March 29, 2011

Media Contact 
Joshua Martin, Environmental Paper Network, 828.251.8558/828.242.4238

2020 Goals Are a Good Step, But Are They Enough or a Missed Opportunity?

Asheville, NCToday, the trade association for the U.S. forest and paper industry announced a set of environmental and safety related goals for its members called, Better Practices, Better Planet 2020The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) applauds the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) for recognizing an urgent need for reducing its environmental impact and for responding to the calls for industry transformation from conservation organizations and economic trends in the marketplace. However, as a whole, the goals announced today are incomplete and the process to achieve them remains unclear.

Statement from Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network:  “Member organizations in the Environmental Paper Network have been working together since 2002 towards the Common Vision for the Transformation of the Paper Industry and accelerating market demand for more environmentally responsible paper products.  The U.S. paper industry has begun to respond to the conservation community’s joint call for transformation and the market demand for more responsible paper production.

“The AF&PA goals announced today include some notable first steps towards reducing the U.S. paper industry’s significant environmental impact and also the opportunity for further expansion of the effort’s scope and ambition.  EPN applauds AF&PA for seeking to increase its energy efficiency, decrease greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and reduce OSHA recordable safety incidents.  EPN also looks forward to working together to achieve progress on the common goal of increasing paper recovery.

“However, taken as a whole, the goals are incomplete in addressing the full scope of the industry’s massive footprint and are a missed opportunity for decisive leadership in the global marketplace and in the fight against climate change.  It is surprising that there are no specific goals or plans related to water quality or air quality. Though gains have been made since the 1970s, the industry remains a major polluter.  And these goals will mean very little for forest conservation and biodiversity in our woods if they result in merely expanding certification by the less credible Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or SFI.  The EPN calls on AF&PA and its member companies to strive for global leadership by exceeding these goals and broadening their scope as soon as possible.”

Specific examples of where the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative falls short of the comprehensive conservation Vision of the Environmental Paper Network include,

  • It is unclear what, if any, efforts will be taken to achieve these goals by AF&PA;
  • There is an absence of goals related to improving water quality through cleaner production;
  • There is a deferral of any goal setting on water consumption to an undetermined date;
  • There is an absence of goals related to air quality and reducing air pollution, beyond greenhouse gas emissions emitted from the use of fossil fuels;
  • These goals fall short of the conservation community goal of a 75% paper recovery rate by 2015;
  • These goals also do not address other critical sustainability issues such as the conversion of natural forests to plantations, spraying of chemical herbicides and pesticides or the use of genetically engineered tree species; and,
  • The forestry goal lacks a clear target and does not designate the more credible Forest Stewardship Council as the only qualifying forestry certification.  Instead it allows expanded certification of the controversial, industry-dominated, and less rigorous scheme known as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
The conservation community looks forward to the opportunity to work with AF&PA and its member companies to accelerate progress towards these and other environmental goals.


The Environmental Paper Network accelerates environmental transformation in the paper industry through collaboration and the coordination of a strong and diverse coalition of non-governmental organizations in order to protect forests, climate, water and communities.  Learn more at  

AF&PA Announces 2010 Paper Recovery Rate

The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) has announced the 2010 paper recovery rate during its annual event for members, known this year as Paper2011 and held in Chicago, Illinois.

From AF&PA, 
Thanks to the on-going daily efforts of millions of Americans, 63.5 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2010.  The recovery rate in 2009 was 63.4 percent. Paper recovery for recycling has increased by 77% since 1990.
Recycling's benefits are well established and it is an activity that brings us all together through our small actions into a community effort with a big impact for a cleaner, healthier planet.  Environmental Paper Network's RePaper Project has been facilitating a dialogue for the past year between a diverse group of conservation organizations, the AF&PA and leading paper companies and other national leaders and government officials to explore new opportunities for collaboration to achieve this common goal to increase paper recovery and recycling.  As AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman stated this week, “Recycling is a true sustainability success story, bringing economic, environmental and social benefits to communities across the country.” 

The RePaper Project is recruiting companies, universities and others to join in this national effort to aggressively increase paper recovery by signing up for the RePaper Challenge.  

More statistics on paper recycling from the industry association can be found at

Friday, March 25, 2011

Green America's Better Paper Project Visits FutureMark Paper

The FutureMark Paper Company located just outside Chicago is arguably the country's greenest paper mill, according to Green America's Better Paper Project.  The mission of the non-profit organization Green America, a member of the Environmental Paper Network, is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.  This 3-minute video shows the environmental benefits of recycled paper in a brief tour of the FutureMark mill.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Release: McDonald’s Adopts Leading Forest Standard for Its Paper Packaging

Press Release from Dogwood Alliance 

Fast food giant McDonald’s announced a new Sustainable Land Management Commitment in support of their efforts to improve how they source everything from beef and chicken to paper packaging. While McDonald’s sustainable packaging policies have incorporated the familiar and important tenets of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, it’s the adoption of new forest standards discouraging the conversion of natural forests to industrial tree plantations and giving buying preference for paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that propels McDonald’s ahead of its competitors and sets a higher environmental bar for the fast food industry.

“We applaud McDonald’s as the first of the big fast food companies to take a clear stand against the continued conversion of natural forests to plantations and to embrace FSC certification over the widely criticized and misleading industry driven Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) that certifies the conversion of natural forests to plantations as sustainable” said Andrew Goldberg of Dogwood Alliance. “Unfortunately, KFC, whose paper packaging is also sourced from mills connected to the destruction of important wetland forests along the Mid-Atlantic Coast, continues to resist change.”

Specifically, McDonald’s will work to eliminate paper originating from tree plantations established after 1994 that were previously natural forests. The replacement of natural forests by industrial tree plantations for paper production has destroyed millions of acres of unique forests and forested wetlands in the Southern US, the world’s largest paper producing region where much of the paper packaging for companies like McDonald’s and KFC originates.

In giving preference to FSC, McDonald’s recognizes FSC as providing the best assurance of meeting its new forestry standards. FSC is the only forest certification system in the world supported broadly by conservation groups because it prohibits bad forestry practices such as large-scale clearcutting, conversion of natural forests to plantations, logging of endangered forests, and widespread use of toxic chemicals in forest management practices..

Last year, a public campaign was launched against Yum! Brands and its biggest fast food chain KFC whose paper packaging comes from International Paper mills that are destroying wetland forests along the Mid Atlantic Coast. KFC announced a new environmental packaging policy last September which was criticized as failing to protect these forests.

# # #

Dogwood Alliance is protecting millions of acres of Southern forests by changing the way communities, landowners and corporations value them for their benefits to climate, wildlife and water. For more information on the KFC fast food packaging campaign, visit  For more info on the organization, visit

See more information on McDonald’s new policy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

EPA Delay Not Based in Science, May Be Unlawful

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an announcement stating they were proposing to "defer for three years, Clean Air Act permitting requirements from bioenergy and other biogenic sources."

At the same time, new EPA guidance is also being provided to permitting authorities that using biomass as a fuel can be considered the best available control technology for CO2 emissions from the large sources needing permits. The EPA says the guidance can be used until they take final action on the deferral. 

Previously, the EPA had ruled that it could not scientifically justify an exemption for bioenergy and other biogenic sources, and that it was not automatically carbon-neutral.  It issued a "Call for Information" where it received over 7700 comments and sufficient scientific evidence of the climate pollution from bioenergy and biogenic sources to take a precautionary approach.  A free pass to pollute for three years appears to be an arbitrary and capricious decision by the agency.

The Environmental Paper Network Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network, responded by saying, 

"A delay of three years ignoring the CO2 emissions from using forests for bioenergy and producing paper products is a delay neither we or the next generation can afford.  This failure to provide guidance will be exploited to perpetuate the damaging myth that turning our forests into bioenergy and paper products is carbon-neutral, leading to costly and environmentally ill-informed decisions by elected officials creating energy policy and purchasers of forest and paper products seeking to lower their carbon footprint.  To make good decisions we need good information, and it is critical that EPA quickly provides scientifically sound guidance on these emissions."  
Clean Air Task Force, a respected advocate of air quality and public health, issued a statement in response as well, which included, 
"EPA’s back-to-back announcements that it will both defer the permitting program for CO2 generated by burning biomass fuels, and allow biomass fuels to quality as categorical BACT for greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources sets a course that is based entirely in politics, not in science or the law, and will make the climate situation worse in the name of improving it. Our nation faces significant economic costs and choices in order to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generating sector. Today’s decision will make the situation worse."
 The statement goes on to question the legality of this announcement, stating,

Finally, there is nothing in the Clean Air Act that supports either a categorical offramp from permitting or a categorical BACT determination for biomass fuels. Treating a ton of carbon pollution emissions generated by burning trees differently than a ton of carbon pollution emissions generated by burning any other fuel, either on a temporary basis or permanently, is just not justified in the law. Because NAFO and others in the forest products industry had the opportunity to comment extensively on this issue when it was presented by EPA’s PSD and Title V Tailoring Rule in 2010, EPA agreement to reconsider the policy now is not lawful.
The consequence of EPA’s biomass deferral will be unprecedented pressure on valuable and important woody biomass/forestry resources. Forests are important carbon sinks, and the significant deforestation that will result from whole tree burning in power plants will not only release the carbon stored in forests, but also diminish their ability to store and sequester carbon now and into the future.
There will be a 45 day public comment period once the proposal is published in the federal register.  More information from the EPA is here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Guest Column: Domtar Biomass Power Project Would be Huge Polluter

The Paper Planet welcomes a guest column by Meg Sheehan of the Biomass Accountability Project, which is working with local citizens who argue that a planned biomass burner in Rothschild, Wisconsin would threaten the health of the community and children at a nearby school, and is not needed to meet energy demand.  

Experts have developed a detailed analysis of the air permit application for the Domtar/We Energies, 50 megawatt biomass-fueled power plant in Rothschild, Wisconsin. The analysis finds that the facility will increase air pollution in the community and will almost certainly throw the region into violation of Clean Air Act standards. The plant will threaten the health of children at an elementary school adjacent to the plant, says the analysis, and increase greenhouse gas emissions in contradiction of state renewable energy goals.

The Biomass Accountability Project has found that Americans know that clean energy doesn't come out of a smokestack.   The organization is working with citizens nationwide to stop biomass power plants and is one of the authors on the analysis.

Domtar has five billion in annual revenues, yet they are skimping on pollution controls.  Located in a residential community, the Domtar biomass burner will spew out highly toxic chemicals that will cause Wisconsin citizens to suffer increased asthma, heart disease, cancer and more. Governor Walker should save taxpayer money and protect the public health by stopping this project.

“Domtar is a prime example of everything wrong with biomass electricity generation,” said Mary Booth, PhD, of the Partnership for Policy Integrity. The analysis, which was developed by the Partnership for Policy Integrity and the Biomass Accountability Project, concludes that the plant should not be built.

According to an analysis by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), “The proposed project is not needed to meet WEPCO‘s near-term energy or capacity needs.” It is instead being built to meet “renewable” energy generation goals in Wisconsin.

“At a time when Wisconsin is struggling with a budget, this project wastes more taxpayer and ratepayer money, and will drive up our health care costs,” said Paul Schwantes, co-chair of Save Our Air Resources, a group of over 1,000 Wisconsin citizens seeking to protect the public health and ensure fiscally responsible renewable energy. “Our comments on the air permit show that the air pollution from this so-called ‘renewable’ project are a toxic soup of the most dangerous pollutants known to science."

Although considered renewable by the State, emissions numbers from the air permit show that burning biomass to generate electricity is less efficient and many times more polluting than natural gas. In fact, Domtar’s biomass burner will emit similar amounts of particulate matter, sulfur, carbon monoxide, and hazardous air pollutants as a coal plant, under the air permit conditions set by DNR.

The DNR is not requiring Domtar to install the most effective available pollution control technologies at the plant, due to claims by the company that pollution control technologies will cost too much.

As a result, DNR further estimates that dangerous particulate matter (PM) emissions from Domtar will put air pollution in the region at 99% of the health standard set by EPA.  As recognized in an environmental assessment conducted by DNR, high air pollution in the region may also restrict economic growth in the area by making it difficult to issue air pollution permits for other businesses. Because the plant will burn wastewater residue from the Domtar paper mill and construction and demolition debris, emissions of toxic air pollutants like lead, chromium, arsenic, and dioxin will also increase.

The We Energies/Domtar project will also produce substantial greenhouse gas emissions, which the permit sets 3,120 pounds per megawatt-hour, more than six times the 510 pounds per megawatt-hour allowed for the facility’s new natural gas burner.

Claims by We Energies and Domtar that the facility will create jobs are not supported by a analysis conducted by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, which concluded that logging and trucking jobs associated with bringing wood fuel to the plant “may or may not be new jobs… there may not be any significant increase in permanent jobs in the Wausau area after the plant was placed in operation.” Once operational, the Domtar biomass burner will be eligible for ratepayer-funded renewable energy credits and a cash grant in lieu of tax credits under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

For more information:
SOAR website:

Air permit comments found at:

Another Billion in Taxpayer Money Handed to Paper Companies

The Dead Tree Edition is reporting today about its latest assessment of the cost to taxpayers from an obscure but expensive loophole in United States renewable energy legislation.  The latest loophole is  a program called Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Credits, which Congress had no intention would be claimed by paper companies.  However last year the Internal Revenue Service dubiously overruled the US Environmental Protection Agency (see EPA's letter) to determine that the $1.01/gallon tax credit was applicable to the burning of black liquor.  Black liquor is a toxic sludge of chemicals and lignin produced in large volumes in the pulping process and burned in recovery boilers to assist in powering virgin tree fiber pulp mills.  The story of the "Black Liquor Loopholes" is a cautionary tale about how NOT to design subsidies for new technologies if the goal is to achieve a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Cost of New Black Liquor Boondoggle Reaches $1.1 Billion

from Dead Tree Edition
The cost of the "Son of Black Liquor" giveaway to U.S. pulp and paper companies officially passed $1 billion last week and could eventually grow much larger.

A dozen publicly traded pulp manufacturers recently reported actual or expected federal Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Credits (CBPC) totaling $1.1 billion in their annual and quarterly reports.

That number includes only $65 million, so far, for #1 pulp manufacturer International Paper and nothing from #2 Georgia Pacific, which is privately held. Both giants seem likely to join or surpass Packaging Corp. of America, Weyerhaeuser, and Domtar, each of which recorded or expects to record more than $200 million (pretax) in CBPCs.

CBPC is supposed to subsidize the production of environmentally friendly biofuels, but in the case of pulp manufacturers it’s a pure giveaway of taxpayer money. The credits are being shelled out to the manufacturers for burning black liquor as a power source, a standard industry practice, in 2009, but the manufacturers didn’t even know they would qualify for the credits until 2010.

Read the full article on Dead Tree Edition >>>

Monday, March 07, 2011

Another Canadian Mill Sold to Notorious Asia Pulp Paper

Greenpeace is concerned about the negative impact on the Boreal Forest in Saskatchewan that will result from the sale of Domtar’s Prince Albert mill to a subsidiary of Asia Pulp Paper (APP).  APP’s subsidiary Paper Excellence has been on a buying spree, scooping up prime Canadian pulp assets in British Columbia and Saskatchewan and shipping jobs offshore.  The majority of the pulp produced by the company’s other three mills is shipped to China for processing into paper products.

Greenpeace Canada forest coordinator Richard Brooks issued a statement today, saying, “It is a great concern that Canadian mills are being bought up by Asia Pulp and Paper, one of the most destructive logging and pulp and paper companies operating anywhere.  APP is the primary contributor to making Indonesia the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet. We urge the Saskatchewan and federal governments to investigate APP which has been involved in illegal logging and deforestation in Indonesia for decades and continues to be involved in conflicts with local communities there. APP is also a debt-ridden company. Do we want that kind of company as a major player in Canada’s forest products sector?”

Richard Brooks is available for interviews at (416) 573-7209

Background provided by Greenpeace:

The destruction of rainforest and carbon-rich peatlands is the key reason for why Indonesia accounts for around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation. The palm oil and pulp and paper industry are the two major drivers of these escalating emissions. The endangered orang-utan and Sumatran tiger are just two of the species under threat of extinction due to habitat loss caused by Asia Pulp and Paper.

Asia Pulp and Paper, the ‘family treasure’ of the Sinar Mas Group and the notorious Widjaja family, defaulted on more than $14 billion of debt during the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s. It was saved by suspicious government financed ‘restructuring’.  At the end of 2009, APP’s Indonesian mills still owed $4.2 billion of restructured debt.

Major forest products companies Office Depot, Staples, Xerox, Ricoh, and Target have all cancelled contracts with APP over risks to their brands of using APP products and over APP’s links to deforestation. APP is subject to a global campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations.

Learn more about how Sinar Mas Group is “Pulping the Planet.”