Lumber company settles air quality lawsuit
A nearly $13 million settlement ended litigation over air pollution enforcement filed against Sierra Pacific Industries, a timber operations company and California’s largest private landowner.
The Placer County Air Pollution Control District, with the California Attorney General and the California Air Resources Board, prosecuted the logging company to settle a civil complaint that was filed in 2004 alleging numerous violations of air pollution regulations.
Before the case went to trial, the parties reached a settlement last week. A formal agreement was filed with Placer County on June 26.
The civil complaint alleged that Sierra Pacific Industries, which owns large amounts of property in Martis Valley, operated sawmills and wood-fired boilers at their facilities in Lincoln, Quincy, Loyalton and Susanville (now closed) in violation of the company’s air pollution control permits. Sierra Pacific has since taken steps to improve the company’s compliance with air pollution regulations.
The settlement includes $8.5 million in penalties and public agency costs and fees. The remaining $4.5 million will be spent on projects enhancing future compliance of Sierra Pacific’s operations or projects that will benefit air quality. As part of the settlement, Sierra Pacific promises to ensure that none of the conditions alleged in the complaints occur in the future.
“The settlement duly recognizes the severity of the alleged past violations by Sierra Pacific Industries, while seeking to enhance the company’s future ability to comply with air pollution requirements and provide air quality benefits for the public,” said Placer County Air Pollution Control Officer Thomas Christofk.