California Bar Journal
CBJ - August 2008 #08.
'Eco Pledge:' Green effort or shades of red?
California Bar JournalJune 2008'Eco Pledge': Green effort or shades of red?By Dean KinleyStaff WriterAn effort to seek public comment on a proposal to encourage law firms to become more environmentally friendly sparked a heated debate - including allusions to dead squirrels and Mao Zedong's "Little Red Book" - before surviving a 4-3 committee vote last month.
Following a presentation on the major elements of the so-called "Lawyers Eco Pledge," board member John Peterson of Fresno opened fire: "This is the most massive intrusion into the lives of lawyers and law firms - the most massive I've ever seen."
Peterson said he knows the "proposal was not intended to be political," but likened it to Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book," noting that people were beaten or even killed for not complying with the advice in Mao's quotations. He cited the comprehensive requirements of the Eco Pledge, ranging from environmentally green guidelines to "best practices" business certification, and said passage eventually will lead to a situation where if lawyers don't sign the pledge, they won't be hired.
The Eco Pledge calls for firms to adopt a law office sustainability policy and educate their members and staff about its detailed elements on, among other things, how to reduce toxic chemicals and paper, water and energy use; eliminate disposables; reuse equipment and supplies; purchase sustainable products; use sustainable service providers; and recycle. (For the comprehensive pledge, go to calbar.ca.gov, select Public Comment in the right-hand menu, then select from 2008 the Sustainable Practice Initiative.)
Following adoption of the policy, the Eco Pledge signers then will be expected to assign a person within the firm to implement it; take as many good faith steps and actions in the Law Office Sustainability Guidelines as possible; commit to educate all members of the firm about the policy; encourage the law firm premises owner or landlord to implement sustainable practices; and commit to review the policy and its implementation at the beginning of each year.
Peterson continued his argument with references to claims of the oceans cooling rather than warming over the past five years and said a lot of today's environmental "data is...