Students trying to get Boise Cascade blacklisted

Students at Indiana University are leading a campaign to get state agencies to reject doing business with a company accused of environmental abuses.

Bloomington Herald Times
October 25, 2001

Students trying to get Boise Cascade blacklisted
Steve Hinnefeld

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Students at Indiana University are leading a campaign to get state agencies to reject doing business with a company accused of environmental abuses.

IU activists and students from elsewhere around the state are staging a "call-in day" today, asking the state to refuse to contract with Boise Cascade Corp.

"We're hoping if Indiana stops buying from them it will put some pressure on Boise to change their practices," said Bridget Lee, who is organizing the campaign.

The students, working with IU's Student Environmental Action Coalition and the Indiana Forest Alliance, hope to take advantage of state officials' promises to pursue environmentally sound policies.

A 1999 executive order by Gov. Frank O'Bannon created a "Greening the Government" initiative that promotes recycling, reuse of materials and other steps to reduce environmental waste.

"We're kind of hoping they look at that and think this (campaign) pertains to it," Lee said.

The call-in day, targeting both O'Bannon and Department of Administration Commissioner Glenn Lawrence with phone calls and e-mail, corresponds to a national campaign to involve universities in anti-logging efforts.

Local activists say a five-month-old IU policy committing the university to not buying wood or paper products made from old-growth forests is being cited as a model.

"IU was the first major school to do this, and now it is being highlighted to schools all around the country as a leader," said Joshua Martin of the Indiana Forest Alliance.

That success freed Indiana campus environmentalists to target state government today. They are taking on Boise Cascade, an Idaho-based pulp and paper giant, because it has been the focus of environmental criticism.

The Rainforest Action Network says the company has done extensive logging on public lands and old-growth forests, fought an effort to protect federal roadless areas and was implicated in labor abuses in Mexico and forest destruction in Chile.

Boise Cascade denies the allegations and contends it practices sustainable forestry and protects air and water quality at its logging operations and mills. "Our wildlife and fish biologists work closely with our foresters to ensure that we manage over 2 million acres of timberland in the U.S. in ways that provide and enhance wildlife habitat," says a statement on the company's Web site.

Lawrence, the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration, said state officials will consider what they hear from student activists.

He said the "Greening the Government" effort, under his department's direction, has significantly increased recycling and reuse by state employees and boosted the state's purchases of recycled products and materials.

State laws, not to mention the state's current budget shortages, require looking closely at cost in making purchasing decisions, he said. But in some contracts, he said, a company's environmental practices could be a factor.

"We require competitive bidding and we're obligated to obey the law, but we do have a degree of flexibility," he said.


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