Washington trip stresses forest products issues

Workers employed in the U.S. forest products industry traveled to Washington recently and had hundreds of face-to-face meetings with lawmakers and administration officials to underscore concerns about public policies impacting the industry’s future.

The Pulp and Paperworkers’ Resource Council is a grassroots organization of hourly employees of the forest products industry. The group’s goal is to help elected and appointed officials understand how critical the forest products industry is to the health of the U.S. economy and the environment.

In Washington, during their three days of meetings, 73 PPRC members made 544 legislative and administration visits, including the office of the Vice President.

“Communities around the country need the types of good-paying jobs that forest products manufacturing provides, whether it’s making paper, building products, bath tissue or boxes — products Americans use every day,” said David Wise, PPRC chairman. “The PPRC believes that our elected and government officials need to protect the environment while at the same time support the global competitiveness of the U.S. forest products industry. Overly burdensome regulations and legislation ultimately hurt the U.S. workers we represent, our families, friends and neighbors that live in our communities.”

According to Wise, issues that PPRC members addressed included:

– Regulatory reform. The regulatory system is a drag on our economy, job creation and the ability of the U.S. industry to compete globally. The PPRC seeks a more balanced and economical approach that does more good than harm, is based on sound science, and is transparent and accountable to the public.

– The carbon neutrality of biomass and manufacturing byproducts. The carbon neutrality of biomass harvested from sustainably managed forests has been recognized repeatedly by agencies and institutions around the world. Forest products industry manufacturers use biomass residuals to power their facilities, reducing fossil fuel use and providing significant carbon reduction benefits to the environment. The PPRC urges policymakers to formally recognize the industry’s use of biomass for energy as carbon neutral.

– Endangered species. Forest products industry employees support Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform. The ESA needs to be modernized and updated after 30 years.

– Fish consumption (human health water quality criteria). At a national and state level, the EPA has been imposing policies based on unrealistic assumptions that will make HHWQC more stringent, resulting in more waters being listed as impaired and creating extremely costly, unattainable permit limits for manufacturers.

– Preserving paper options for consumers. The PPRC supports policies that recognize paper-based communications are critically important for millions of Americans. The move to digitize all forms of communication creates a disadvantage for American households without internet access and the 45 percent of seniors who do not own a computer. Increasingly, citizens are being denied the option to receive federal services and communications in paper format.

The PPRC believes in balancing environmental needs while securing existing manufacturing-based jobs in local communities.

— The Daily News, Iron Mountain

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