A little while back I posted this: Taking The Axe To The Environmental Movement: Resolute v. Greenpeace.
Some of you complained because you don’t like Greenpeace. But that is hardly the point. Greenpeace has a history of working towards important goals and sometimes even attaining them, and there are a lot of whales that want you to lay off and give them credit.
Anyway, the point of that post was to let you know about a SLAPP lawsuit Greenpeace had been slapped with by Resolute Forest Products.
The long and the short of it is this: Resolute, if they get legal traction and win, are setting up a situation where environmental advocates can be told to sit down and shut up because their activism opposes businesses doing business the way they want to. That is not something you want to happen.
Anyway, we have this development. This is not from Greenpeace, but from Stand.Earth, another organization being threatened:
THURSDAY MAY 18, 2017 • Posted by Todd Paglia, Executive Director, Stand.earth
You may have never heard of Resolute Forest Products, Canada’s largest logging company, but you’re likely to be hearing more about the wayward company in the coming months. Resolute CEO Richard Garneau has earned a reputation as a thin-skinned executive who bullies and threatens his employees, competitors and critics. The parallels between him and Trump are uncanny — to the point that when he sued my organization (Stand.earth) and Greenpeace — he hired the law firm that Trump used to threaten the New York Times for publishing his tax returns and which vigorously defended Bill O’Reilly against multiple charges of sexual harassment.
Garneau’s lawsuit against us is pure bully strategy – come up with an outlandish legal strategy that forces your non-profit critics to spend precious resources defending themselves. Not very elegant or admirable, but it’s a $300 million (Canadian) legal threat nevertheless. Just like Trump is thankfully running into the constraints that our democracy provides, Garneau is crashing into the reality of the justice system. This week he got his first surprise, and likely not his last.
Garneau brought the lawsuit against us in one of the most inconvenient places possible – and an area he presumably believed held plenty of sympathy toward logging companies: the Southern District of Georgia. This week the court ruled that the lawsuit should be heard in the Northern District if California, where many of the key staff for both Stand.earth and Greenpeace live and where we both have offices.
We thought this change in venue was unlikely to be granted given that the judge was a fair-minded but conservative Bush appointee and he seemed unlikely to have a lot of sympathy for advocacy groups. His order this week may be an indication of just how ludicrous this case is.
Resolute may try to appeal having their case removed from Southern Georgia to San Francisco, but their hands are tied – the judge has broad discretion to “transfer” a case and once he does so it is extremely hard to reverse. It gives us a great jury pool, a better chance at a more progressive judge, the amazing 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should an appeal occur, and a location that is easy for us to get to.
You might wonder whether the Resolute Board of Directors is paying any attention to the company they bear fiscal and legal responsibility for. Their CEO has presided over a plummeting share price (from over $20 two years ago to under $5 today) and the company has questionable business fundamentals (Resolute made a huge bet on, of all things, the newsprint market among other questionable calls). Despite a faltering business, Garneau appears obsessed with bringing down Stand.earth and Greenpeace. Garneau has spent millions of the company’s funds pursuing what appears to be nothing more than a personal vendetta. Now his already incredibly remote prospects of winning are fading further.
On top of all that, Garneau’s behavior has made many of the big brands that it sells to uncomfortable. Who wants to be known as doing business with a company serially suing non-profits and attacking the First Amendment? As the judge in his ruling stated: the lawsuit claims that we “illegally criticized” Resolute’s clearcut logging practices. Criticism may be illegal in Russia and maybe that’s where Garneau should be pursuing his lawsuit. Dozens of Resolute customers have reduced or eliminated their purchases from the rogue logging company. That seems likely to pick up pace.
Book publishers like Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster are still doing business with Resolute despite the company’s destructive logging and anti-First Amendment problems. They and other big brands will be increasingly faced with choosing between being loyal to a company like Resolute or living up to their values. The choice is clear.
Whether the Resolute Board of Directors ever reels in their increasingly unhinged CEO, the company is in trouble. It is a brand risk to do business with Resolute on multiple levels already. And, Garneau has established himself as a Trumpian CEO who is obsessed with spending company time and money threatening critics instead of focusing on the business he is supposed to be running.
Resolute’s future looks turbulent at best. Sound familiar?
Go here to help them out if you like.
And now, an inspiring video for you to watch and share:
21 thoughts on “Freedom of Speech, Resolute Forestry, Stand.Earth, Greenpeace: New Developments”
What a nice, one sided, obviously biased article that of course manages to throw Trump into the mix of something he has absolutely nothing to do with. And I love how Todd Paglia is so concerned about Resolute’s share price….crazy capitalist that he is.
Of course, in the real world, there are two sides to every story:
However, the two sides aren’t necessarily balanced, either morally or legally.
‘These alleged claims arise from, among other things, Greenpeace’s self-described “Resolute: Forest Destroyer” campaign falsely accusing Resolute of, among other things: (a) “destroying endangered forests,” and “operating and sourcing wood . . . in violation of law”; (b) causing the “destruction of endangered species” and “critical caribou habitat” and risking a “Caribou Herd Death Spiral,” “extirpation” and “extinction;” (c) “abandoning” and “impoverishing” the Boreal’s indigenous communities; and (d) impairing the Boreal’s ability to mitigate climate change.’
So they’re being sued for expressing their opinion, which is of course protected by the First Amendment. Such speech would be protected even if it were demonstrably shown to be wrong, but the argument put forth immediately following by Resolute is itself demonstrably false:
“The complaint describes in detail the falsity of these and other malicious and defamatory accusations. Among other things, the complaint explains that far from being a “forest destroyer,” Resolute has planted well over a billion trees in the Boreal – which is a billion more than Greenpeace – and is responsible for virtually no permanent lost forest acreage.”
Clearcut stands replaced by even-aged monospacies stands are not ecologically the equivalent to the previously unlogged forests they replace. Greenpeace’s claim that Resolute has destroyed forests is not an acreage argument, and an acreage argument is not sufficient to prove the statement false. This is typical of the industry arguments made for decades, and courts haven’t been very sympathetic to such claims (which fly in the face of decades of research) since the late 1980s, when old growth protections were won in the Pacific Northwest due to legal victories by conservation organizations.
I’d say defendants have a good chance of getting their legal fees reimbursed after they win their case.
Resolute has been shopping this shot around for some time. As noted on Greg’s first post on this:
It also doesn’t seem that GreenPeace is the only organization saying these things about Resolute’s logging practices.
Dhogaza – “So they’re being sued for expressing their opinion, which is of course protected by the First Amendment”
“Greenpeace wrongly characterizes our lawsuit in U.S. federal court as an attack on the First Amendment. The lawsuit stems from the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Free speech does not protect libel and slander”
And plenty more:
Yes, of course they say that. That won’t stop Greenpeace from making a first amendment defense, and from arguing in court that their statements are accurate. As I pointed out, the first “inaccurate statement” claim put forward by Resolute doesn’t hold water.
Well, it will be interesting to see what happens…
Since when has a for-profit multinational corporation prioritised the best interests of the environment and/or the public in their operations?
Um… like… never?
Why should Resolute be any different? When the word ‘sustainable’ is used by greenwashing industries, in reality it means ‘continued exploitation/plundering of the environment for as long as possible’. The term means something very different to an environmental scientist or to the environment itself for that matter. Resolute’s record is abominable. No ands, ifs or buts. As the following document shows, their practices are anything BUT environmentally sustainable.
The ‘bottom line’ is what matters every time: profit maximisation. History is littered with examples of corporations that carried out abhorrent practices in full knowledge of what they were doing and then, when caught, refusing to apologise but instead simply shrugging their shoulders saying ‘That’s how we do business. Get used to it’.
Joel Bakan wrote an excellent book on the pathology of corporations appropriately titled ‘The Corporation’. It is well worth a read. Resolute’s appalling anti-environmental operations fit into Bakan’s narrative perfectly.
A final point. The document I attached is the one with the arguments being contested by Resolute. But one just has to go the boreal forests themselves to see what the truth is. And let’s say that it doesn’t remotely support the company. That should be hardly surprising, since they are involved as much in greenwashing as any other industry. Canada has a long history of appalling, clear cut logging practices caused by a number of corporations. Once again, unless they are heavily regulated, something the current Trump administration in the US wants to greatly relax, then corporations WILL overexploit the environment. They can’t effectively self-regulate. Not in a million years. Why is it that many leading pundits consider the US a plutocracy? Corporations control every lever of US government. They do that to eviscerate public constraints in the pursuit of private profit. Regulations limit profits, so the aim is to reduce or even eliminate them. This ain’t rocket science, folks, yet I am consistently amazed at the number of people who think that corporations can be let off of the leash and that they will behave responsibly.
Betula, RICO was intended to go after mafia. Greenpeace has nothing to do with racketeering.
#9 Yes indeed. You have that correct.
#7 and #8
Its bloody insane how companies
act when there is regulations!
Self regulation is not an option.
Did ya notice this blog post?
Mike – “Betula, RICO was intended to go after mafia. Greenpeace has nothing to do with racketeering”
Mike’s an attorney for Greenpeace now…
Keep up the good work Mike, we’re counting on you!
Hardley – “But one just has to go the boreal forests themselves to see what the truth is.. And let’s say that it doesn’t remotely support the company. That should be hardly surprising,”
In other words, you don’t know what the truth is, but you act like you do.
You’re an increasingly marginalised minority, betty:
Maybe you ought to admit it’s all faith based denial so you can get a religious exception.
“In other words, you don’t know what the truth is, but you act like you do.”
It’s very easy to determine the facts. Simply look at whatever you support in this story: the facts are the opposite of your statements.
@14 – Not sure what this has to do with Hardley pretending to know the “truth” about Resolute, but coming from you, I’m not surprised….
Question though, about your link and this statement:
“Nearly nine in 10 people say they are ready to make changes to their standard of living if it would prevent future climate catastrophe”
What’s stopping them?
And since we are off subject…
Wow, I’m still wondering about the “corrupt” profit distribution you received as a shareholder of Westmill Solar…
Why Wow? Why?
“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
To be honest, I’m a bit passive, but the situation we face is sooooo bad I admire the in your face efforts of Greenpeace. They’re way better than I am, wedded to my comforts at the expense of the future as I am.
You go, Greenpeace! (Yes, I donate, probably not enough. They do it “so I don’t have to” even though I know things are bad enough that every live body on earth should be fighting to the point of having to pry our dead cold fingers from pointing towards reality and truth.)
Try Brunner’s “The Sheep Look Up” (and 1984). The handwriting has been on the wall forever!
#12, I have a problem with laws being used beyond their intention, like the Patriot Act against a strip club, or hate crimes laws every time the two are of different race, just so the prosecutor can have an easier time of things.