Resolute Forest Products, a Montréal, Quebec-based producer of pulp, paper, and other wood products, filed a civil RICO suit in a federal district court in Georgia that alleges environmental group Greenpeace and its allies have engaged in a pattern of defamatory and fraudulent behaviors when targeting the company over its forestry practices.
The company claims that Greenpeace International, Greenpeace USA, STAND (the San Francisco-based non-profit formerly called ForestEthics), and a number of their associates comprise a “Criminal Enterprise” that has deliberately defamed Resolute and misrepresented its practices and environmental record in order to boost their fundraising efforts.
The company’s complaint includes federal racketeering claims as well as racketeering, trademark, defamation, and tortious interference claims under Georgia law. Resolute is seeking compensatory as well as punitive damages.
“Our company strives for the highest standards of environmental stewardship, which is why the attacks on us are so obviously cynical and thoroughly irresponsible,” Richard Garneau, Resolute’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement. “We have an obligation to our business ethics, and our many shareholders, customers, partners and stakeholders to draw the line after all other means have been exhausted.”
Resolute owns or operates at least 30 mills in Canada, plus eight in the United States and one in South Korea. According to Greenpeace Canada, which is the target of a separate, ongoing 2013 defamation lawsuit by the company, Resolute’s forestry practices are concerning “on a multitude of fronts.”
We have an obligation to our business ethics, and our many shareholders, customers, partners and stakeholders to draw the line after all other means have been exhausted.
Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer, Resolute Forest Products
“Resolute Forest Products is responsible for the destruction of vast areas of Canada’s magnificent Boreal forest,” Greenpeace Canada claims, “damaging critical woodland caribou habitat and logging without the consent of impacted First Nations.”
Furthermore, since January 2014, the group added, “Resolute has had four Forest Stewardship Council certificates covering more than 8 million hectares of forest suspended or terminated,” which Greenpeace Canada noted is “unprecedented worldwide.”
Greenpeace USA denies Resolute’s allegations that it has targeted the company maliciously or without factual basis for its claims, and called the suit a “SLAPP” lawsuit meant to intimidate and silence its critics (SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”).
Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA’s executive director, said in a statement that Resolute has a history of trying to bury revelations about its environmental practices with threats and baseless lawsuits, but vowed that the group will not be cowed by the pressure.
“Instead of focusing on real solutions for forests, communities and its business, Resolute is once again wasting resources on a case with no merit,” Leonard said.
“As it has done before, the company has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to silence critics with legitimate concerns about its environmental practices. Grotesquely misstating our mission and attacking our credibility with a frivolous lawsuit and a malicious public relations campaign will get Resolute nowhere.”
This story was published with permission from Mongabay.com