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Virginia Politics
Posted at 09:11 AM ET, 02/02/2012

McDonnell lobbies Kroger about Va.-based Mercury Paper

First, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the state’s chief jobs creation officer, lobbied companies, including Wal-Mart, that threatened to cut off business with Virginia-based Mercury Paper.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell greets Senate Clerk, Susan Scharr, right, as Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, top left, looks on (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown, Pool)

Now Gov. Bob McDonnell has gotten into the act.

McDonnell sent a letter to Kroger CEO David Dillon, in which he said the company’s decision to halt purchases from Mercury undermines the state’s economic recovery.

Mercury Paper, a subsidiary of Asia-based Sinar Mas Group, one of the world’s leading pulp and paper companies, expanded its Shenandoah County facility last year, relocating its North American headquarters to the site, creating 150 jobs and investing $21.2 million. (The state spent $250,000 to lure the company here.)

The environmental group Greenpeace wrote in a report that the company destroys rainforests, causes species extinction and threatens efforts to deal with climate change.

“The organizations pressing for this boycott are focused neither on the best interests of Virginia’s citizens, not your customers, and are unaware of Mercury’s commitment to environmental sustainability throughout its supply chain,’’ McDonnell wrote. “Mercury Paper is an important part of Virginia’s economic recovery and Kroger’s decision will harm this business.”

Linda Kramme, manager of the forest program at World Wildlife Fund, said her organization and others applaud Kroger for making a responsible business decision.

“WWF and other groups that are asking consumers not to buy Mercury’s products...aren’t trying to put Mercury or APP out of business, but simply asking them to adhere to the same forestry practices that responsible pulp and paper companies the world over adhere to,’’ she said.

Several companies, including Nestle, Kimberly-Clark and Kraft, have removed Sinar Mas from their supply chains. The U.S. Department of Commerce in 2010 imposed tariffs on Mercury’s parent company after finding that it dumped paper on the U.S. market.

Kroger has 60 stores in Virginia, and employs more than 7,500 people in the state.

Late last year, a coalitionof conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity Virginia and the Tea Party Patriot Federation, formed to support Virginia businesses, including Mercury Paper, from what it calls “unfounded attacks by out-of-state activist groups.’’

By  |  09:11 AM ET, 02/02/2012

Tags:  Mercury Paper, Sinar Mas Group

 
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