PORTLAND, Ore. — April 29, 2020 — Ecotrust and the state of Oregon have agreed to a no-fault settlement related to the state’s short-lived New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program. We strongly deny we had any intention to improperly obtain tax credit from the state. We have chosen a no-fault settlement so that we can return our full attention to urgent priorities—food-system resiliency, healthy ecosystems and jobs, and many other critical initiatives. These priorities are even more pressing in light of COVID-19 and its impact on communities.
Under the terms of the settlement, Ecotrust and Ecotrust Forest Management will make a payment of $4.4 million to the state.
This reimburses the state for a portion of the tax benefits, fees, and the state’s legal expenses. No past, current, or future philanthropic or investor funds will be used for the settlement, which is covered by insurance.
The two projects at the heart of the NMTC issue are a forest restoration project and a sawmill refurbishment. There is no dispute about the social value or community benefit of these projects. The state took issue with the tax credit applications for these projects. We maintain a different perspective. We hired NMTC experts to assist us in our applications and relied on third-party appraisals for each transaction. We believe our applications met the guidelines and intent provided by the state. Ecotrust remains firmly convinced of its position, but a lengthy court case would distract from our mission at a time when we need all hands on deck.
Oregon faces serious challenges—soaring unemployment, worsening inequality of wealth and resources, climate change, food insecurity, and COVID-19 and its aftermath. These are big, complex issues that require innovative public-private partnerships. We know from experience that these partnerships can deliver tangible benefits. We look forward to continuing this work with dedication and rigor.
Ecotrust has learned from its participation in the state’s NMTC program and has established new policies and procedures related to the review of state applications and contracts. We are optimistic that among the lessons learned from this process is the importance of reliable and consistent communication and clear program requirements.
With this issue resolved, we are moving forward as innovators and collaborators, continuing to put bold ideas into action for a better world.
Ecotrust creates and accelerates triple-bottom-line innovations to benefit our region and inspire the world. Our work is rooted the region from California to Alaska that holds productive lands and determined people. On the farm, at the coast, in the forest, and across our cities, we work in partnership towards an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. We recognize the legacy of colonialism and the deep inequities of this place, and we believe that radical, practical change is possible and necessary. Since 1991, we have created durable change and sparked ideas across the globe. Join us at ecotrust.org