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Tue, Sep 17, 2019 21:09
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Management Side

Forest Products Workers Discuss Policies that Jeopardize Manufacturing Jobs, Environment on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (News release) - More than 80 American workers employed in the U.S. forest products industry recently descended on Washington, D.C. and made more than 350 visits with Members of Congress. Their goal was to educate officials on the impacts of legislative and regulatory decisions on the environment as well as the families and communities that depend on forest products manufacturing for their livelihood.

The group of workers were from The Pulp & Paperworkers' Resource Council (PPRC), a grassroots organization of hourly employees in the forest products industry who educate about issues affecting American manufacturing jobs in their industry. They represented 51 mills across 17 states.

"This year's fly-in provided a great chance for the PPRC to tell Members of Congress that clear, common-sense legislation and regulatory policy are needed to help our industry and its hard-working, dedicated employees," said PPRC Chairman David Wise. "We believe that foundation will support the creation of manufacturing jobs in rural and urban communities and go a long way toward ensuring a competitive playing field for the American forest products industry in the global market."

The PPRC discussed several issues, including:

  • The Carbon Neutrality of Biomass. The forest products industry relies on trees to make its products and uses biomass residuals to power facilities and supply electricity to the grid. Although EPA has indicated that wood-derived by-products used to power forest products mills are carbon neutral, the PPRC calls on the EPA, USDA and DOE to finalize their official policies on carbon neutral biomass.

  • Recycling. Recovered fiber markets are complex, efficient and dynamic and are not served by regulations and prescriptive approaches to specify the use of recycled fibers or dictate what type of recovered fiber is used in products. The PPRC asks for support of a market-based paper recycling system and to oppose mandates or incentives that divert commonly recycled paper away from use in manufacturing new products.

  • Forest Management. The PPRC supports measures to better manage our forests that would increase resilience in the wake of fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. PPRC seeks support to restore and replant after hurricanes to reduce wildfire risk while providing fiber for mills.

  • Transportation Efficiency. The forest products industry is currently facing a nationwide shortage of transportation capacity and inefficiencies. Moving raw materials to mills and moving products to customers is increasingly difficult and costly. The PPRC calls for the update of antiquated interstate weight limits so truck traffic can be reduced in a safe and efficient manner. For rail, the PPRC supports efforts to revoke the forest products industry's commodity exemption, update Surface Transportation Board (STB) policies and fill open STB seats.

  • NAAQS. The PPRC supports balanced policies in implementing National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). However, overly burdensome regulations are discouraging projects that would keep mills competitive and support U.S. jobs. The PPRC calls for air permitting reforms to expedite job-creating projects.

  • Endangered Species Act. Forest products industry employees support Endangered Species Act reform. The regulations established to implement these interests should be based on sound science, not political science. The impacts on people, property and jobs should be evaluated when making the regulations.

  • Human Health Water Quality Criteria (HHWQC). At the national and state level, EPA has imposed policies that make HHWQC more stringent, leading to more impaired waters listings and costly unattainable permit limits. The PPRC calls for EPA to reconsider its policies and withdraw the federal rules it imposed in Washington and Maine, and approve Idaho's HHWQC. EPA should make clear that it will approve state HHWQC that differ from its national criteria, as long as they are scientifically defensible or are based on site-specific conditions.

In addition, PPRC members thanked Senators and Members of Congress who have joined the Paper and Packaging Caucus, while requesting others join the Caucus.

The U.S. forest products industry is vitally important to our nation's economy, employing about 950,000 people - many in small, rural communities. It ranks among the top 10 manufacturers in 45 states and represents four percent of U.S. manufacturing GDP. The PPRC is dedicated to conserving the environment while taking into account the economic stability of American manufacturing workers and their mills' surrounding communities.



 


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