Tuesday November 15, 2016 •
One of the things I love the most about working at Stand.earth is that we go toe to toe challenging some of the world’s largest companies to do better, to stop destroying forests, to address climate change, to not put people and our planet at risk. This is never comfortable – not for us taking on companies that have more revenue in a few hours than we fundraise in a full year. And it’s not comfortable for the companies we take on – who often want to do the right thing but have simply not prioritized it. Over the years that approach -- moving major companies from conflict to collaboration -- has yielded extraordinary, long-lasting successes. We have been able to protect millions of acres of old growth forests, partner with indigenous people working to gain control over their traditional territories, and challenge and defeat outdated and dangerous fossil fuel projects.
Nearly every company we have ever challenged in a campaign has come to not only change its ways, but to appreciate that we helped them make better decisions for the environment, for people, and for their companies. Moving through conflict – a real adult disagreement – to eventual collaboration demands the best of us and of our temporary adversaries. But this summer, we learned that not everyone can handle agreeing to disagree while working toward our common values. In late May, shadowy private investigators started showing up at the homes of former Stand.earth employees, frightening them and their families by parking in front of their houses for days at a time and asking questions while refusing to explain themselves.
The stories of these intimidating experiences started to multiply – we heard from staff as far flung as the Southeast US to Canada’s West Coast. And then we learned why: the largest logging company in Canada, Resolute Forest Products, was filing a lawsuit against Stand.earth and Greenpeace. And not just our organizations, but individual staff members, including myself. Why would you sue non-profit employees? They’re not known for being flush with money. Nor is Stand.earth. You do it as an attempt to intimidate and bully. And that should come as no surprise, as we now understand the Resolute’s law firm is the same one President-elect Donald Trump is using to threaten to sue The New York Times for releasing his tax information.
Resolute’s New York law firm has come up with quite a few outlandish legal theories, including that Stand.earth and Greenpeace operate just like an organized crime syndicate and should be prosecuted under RICO, a set of laws designed to root out organized crime.
Resolute’s law firm is suing us under RICO, a law that was designed to fight organized crime, claiming that Stand.earth and Greenpeace have been engaged in a “criminal enterprise” in their public interest advocacy to stop destructive logging and protect waterways, wildlife, and communities in the boreal forest of Canada. The primary purpose of Resolute’s legal action is to silence us. Complex litigation can be overwhelming, diverting staff time and resources that should be devoted to our mission and our work. Which is exactly what Resolute wants. But far more ominous and concerning is that if Resolute continues with this lawsuit, it will open the door for other companies to try to muzzle and intimidate their critics through spurious lawsuits designed specifically to intimidate and shut down their critics. But if this lawsuit is dismissed, it sends a strong signal that these types of aggressive tactics won’t work.
That’s why over 75 organizations have joined us in publishing this advertisement in The New York Times calling on Resolute to drop this lawsuit. See a copy of the ad below. Most of these signatories don’t work on forestry issues, many aren’t even environmental organizations. But all of them recognize the threat that this lawsuit poses for everyone’s right to hold companies accountable.
Despite the outsized intimidation tactics of Resolute Forest Products, we will not give up on our commitment to protect forests and our climate as well as the people that depend upon a healthy planet – which is all of us. And we will certainly never back away from criticizing companies like Resolute that treat our forests like they are disposable. Millions of acres of forest must be protected in the coming years to help stabilize our climate and protect people and wildlife. That’s what Resolute is really against. Help us stand up to this bully by signing this petition telling them to drop this intimidation lawsuit.