Maine governor opens the green gates

Maine is the latest battleground among competing “green” forest certification groups.

Maine Governor Paul LePage signed an executive order in December directing that “any new or expanded state buildings shall incorporate ‘Green Building’ standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Standard, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), American Tree Farm System and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems.”

FSC is the only system allowed in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating, a rule that rankles competing groups.

What could be more fair than a level playing field? Well, before you could say, “timber,” voices from the environmental industry fired with both barrels.

“Gov. LePage’s executive order is deceptive and potentially undermines the health and long-term sustainability of Maine’s forests,” said Karen Woodsum, program director of the Maine Woods Campaign of the Sierra Club. Or this one from the National Resource Defense Council’s Sami Yassa: “By moving the state’s emerging green-building economy backwards, LePage is attacking one of the bright spots in the economy right now. His support of unsustainable forestry defies the interests of his citizens and common sense.”

In support of the governor, the SFI fired back against the current rules that give green preference to FSC wood offshore over SFI-certified wood in North America. “This policy is great news for North American communities,” said Kathy Abusow, SFI CEO.

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