For several years, Greenpeace has been mounting a multimedia campaign against Canada’s Resolute Forest Products, one of the largest timber-and-paper companies in the world. Called “Resolute: Forest Destroyer,” the campaign accuses the company of endangering the Boreal Forest, a vast evergreen swath that covers a third of northern Canada.
In response, Resolute has taken the extreme step of suing Greenpeace in the U.S. for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The suit, filed last year and pending in federal court in San Francisco, home to Greenpeace’s forest campaigners, seeks to prove that the environmental group is akin to a mob syndicate. The company says it has suffered a $100 million hit to its reputation. Given that damages can be tripled under RICO, a decision in Resolute’s favor would endanger Greenpeace’s very existence. The suit has strong support in communities tied to the forestry industry. “This is the first time a company has stood up to an outside group and said we won’t take this anymore,” says David Canfield, the mayor of Kenora, a town in northwestern Ontario.