Environmental Groups Say Carbon Credit Company Made False Claims to SEC
September 21 - Several environmental organizations have filed a letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to express concern about potentially illegal statements made by the "eco-restoration" firm Planktos, which is planning a massive iron dump into the Pacific ocean near the Galapagos Islands in a scheme designed to produce carbon offset credits that can be sold for profit.
The International Environmental Law Project, the International Center for Technology Assessment, Fishwise, Greenpeace, the ETC Group, and Friends of the Earth today notified the SEC that Planktos' recent SEC filings contain false information regarding the applicability of U.S. environmental laws to its activities. Additionally, the groups' letter said statements made by Planktos CEO Russ George may mislead investors about the financial and environmental benefits of selling the carbon offset credits that Planktos claims it will be able to generate.
"Scientists warn that large-scale iron fertilization schemes such as the one that Planktos is pursuing are risky and could disrupt ocean ecosystems in harmful ways, yet Planktos misleads the public by portraying itself as a 'green' company," said Ian Illuminato of Friends of the Earth.
"It appears as though Planktos is misleading its investors too, and we've alerted the SEC to that fact. In recent SEC filings, Planktos has been less than forthcoming about the legal obstacles its scheme faces in the U.S. and about the potential market value of any carbon offsets that it might manage to generate," said ICTA Staff Attorney George Kimbrell.
Planktos' planned experiment is to spread iron dust into the ocean to create plankton blooms that suck carbon from the atmosphere and therefore mitigate global warming. Leading biochemists and oceanographers have cast doubt about how much of the absorbed carbon will actually remain in the ocean in a lasting way, which it is intended to do. They also warn of unintended consequences of such manipulation of ocean ecosystems. However, Planktos portrays itself as a savior of the oceans and atmosphere and stated in an information statement filed with the SEC on June 20, 2007 that its process "will sequester tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide."
A copy of the letter filed with the SEC is available at http://www.foe.org/Planktos/Letter_to_SEC.pdf.
To read more about the controversy surrounding the Planktos iron dumping scheme, see recent reports from the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071902553_pf.html) and a Wall Street Journal blog (http://blogs.wsj.com/energy/2007/08/16/upset-about-an-offset/).