Environmental group blasts state for luring controversial company to Va.
State officials gave $250,000 to lure a paper company to Virginia that an environmental group says in a new report destroys rainforests, causes species extinction and threatens efforts to deal with climate change.
Mercury Paper, a subsidiary of Asia-based Sinar Mas Group, one of the world's leading pulp and paper companies, expanded its facility in Shenandoah County and relocated its North American headquarters to the site, creating 150 jobs and investing $21.2 million.
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) attended the company's ribbon-cutting ceremony last month. Greenpeace has long made allegations against the company, but released more details in a new report.
"Of course, Virginians need new jobs,'' said Daniel Kessler, a Greenpeace spokesman. "But they also deserve assurance that new jobs will not be put at risk by reckless actions on the other side of the planet. For the sake of our environment and local economies, Mercury's parent company Sinar Mas must change its ways."
Updated Mercury Paper sent us this response:
"Mercury Paper, Inc. is committed to providing needed economic opportunities in the Shenandoah Valley. To date we have created 150 new manufacturing jobs and have been able to do so in an environmentally sound manner. The products we make are sourced from sustainable and legal origin sources and all of our suppliers meet those criteria."
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In the past six months, several companies, including Nestle, Kimberly-Clark and Kraft, have removed Sinar Mas from their supply chains.
Christie Miller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said Mercury Paper operates its Virginia plant in "full and complete compliance with environmental regulations and regard for the overall quality of our natural resources."
Miller also said the company planted trees along the Blue Ridge parkway this year and plans to plant a number of trees on their new Strasburg property.
Officials at Mercury Paper did not immediately return phone calls.
Ben Marchi, state director of Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group that supports limited government and free trade, criticized Greenpeace for trying to halt necessary jobs coming to the region.
"I don't think folks in the Shenandoah Valley who can't find a job to support their family really care what Greenpeace thinks," Marchi said. "This plant will provide a paycheck to hardworking Virginians, put food on the table, and provide fiscal prosperity to the community and hundreds of families in the area. The only thing the plant hopefully won't do is bow to Greenpeace's lackluster efforts to shutter any and every plant in the nation."
July 16, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell
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