WASHINGTON - American workers employed in the U.S. forest products industry this week visited Washington, D.C. Their goal? Educate members of Congress and administration officials on the impact of legislative and regulatory decisions both on the environment, and on the families and communities that depend on forest products manufacturing for their livelihood.
The Pulp & Paperworkers' Resource Council (PPRC) is a grassroots organization of hourly employees of the forest products industry who educate on issues that impact jobs in their industry. More than 80 PPRC members from across the U.S. visited Washington to discuss issues including the regulatory burden that is impacting American manufacturing, product labeling programs that benefit foreign manufacturers, the highest and best use of wood, and ensuring the competitiveness of the U.S. forest products industry.
In addition to meeting with their members of Congress, PPRC members met with administration officials of the White House and the Office of Management and Budget. Legislative and administration visits totaled 418 during the three days.
"At a time when everyone in our country is concerned about the loss of manufacturing jobs, our U.S. forest products industry is important to our nation's economy, representing about 5 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP," said Patti Barber, PPRC chairwoman. "It employs 900,000 people – many in small, rural communities – and generates total wages of $50 billion in communities across our country."
Issues that PPRC members addressed included:
•USDA Biobased Market Programs: Forest industry products do not receive the Biopreferred Label even though they are nearly 100 percent biobased fiber content, while competitors' products can be as little as 25 percent and receive the Biopreferred Label. This gives preference to foreign competition, while excluding the mature U.S. forest products industry.
•Biomass/Renewable Energy: The forest products industry has always sought to use the "whole tree." Fibers from the tree are used to manufacture high-value pulp and paper products. The waste byproducts are used to create energy through co-generation. Free markets, not government mandates and incentives, should determine the highest value use of wood.
•Cumulative Regulatory Burden: EPA should examine the sustainability of its regulatory program to embrace a balanced approach so costly air and other regulations will protect the public's health while preserving family wage manufacturing jobs. Numerous pending regulations could cost tens of thousands of American manufacturing jobs and billions in capital expenditures.
•Clean Water: The Clean Water Act and its implementing regulations are one of our nation's most successful and wide-ranging environmental programs. The program regulates pollution at its source and involves a comprehensive federal and state regulatory system for issuance of permits and water quality standards. Issuing the administration's Draft Jurisdictional Guidance or regulations based on that guidance would radically impact the original intent of the Clean Water Act and would be detrimental to American manufacturing.
•Forest Roads: The PPRC supports legislation to preserve the treatment of forest roads as non-point sources under the Clean Water Act.
•Truck Weights: The PPRC supports legislation to allow states to increase the weight limit on trucks traveling on interstate highways.
"The vital work of the PPRC 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. We believe in balancing our environmental needs while securing existing manufacturing-based jobs in our local communities," Barber said.
The United States is one of the world's most diverse exporters of sustainable forest products. Exports account for about 15 percent of total U.S. forest products sales. The industry also generates economic benefits from indirect exports – such as domestic sales of paper, paperboard and wood packaging materials – that are used to package and transport goods exported by other U.S. industries.
For more information, please visit www.pprc.info.
Source: The Pulp & Paperworkers' Resource Council
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