The anti-competitive nature of the LEED system becomes more apparent after taking into account that hundreds of cities require LEED standards in building projects. Advocates of the FSC standard influence government agencies to promote the LEED, using taxpayer dollars to favor one certification program over another.
Regulations that promote FSC at the expense of other programs end up creating real environmental costs in contrast to activists’ claims that FSC is the gold standard for forest certification programs. 90% of FSC certified wood products come from outside the U.S., meaning there are more transportation costs. Additionally, there is no single FSC standard as its guidelines and benchmarks vary greatly from country to country. This undercuts any certainty to the consumer of exactly what standards apply to the product being purchased. Third, many of the perceived “abuses” – such as harvesting old growth trees – can occur even if a wood product is certified.
Furthermore, activist groups such as ForestEthics attempt to bully U.S. corporations into using FSC-products exclusively, as they promote FSC as the best certification program. These businesses need to know the facts before they succumb to this pressure.
Given the financial and environmental costs of a framework that pushes the use of FSC-certified wood in the U.S., policymakers should instead promote a free, open system that increases competition and promotes innovation in the certification market.