Forest Products Employees Arrive On Capitol Hill To Communicate Threats To Manufacturing Jobs, Environment

American workers employed in the U.S. forest products industry descended on Washington, D.C., this week and made over 485 visits with members of Congress and administration officials.  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.

“The good-paying jobs that forest products manufacturing provides is vital to our economy,” said David Wise, PPRC chairman. “The PPRC believes that our elected and government officials need to help protect the environment and not support regulations and legislation that hurts U.S. workers. It’s imperative that we ensure a competitive playing field for the American forest products industry in the global market.”

Seventy members from the PPRC discussed several issues, including:
•The carbon neutrality of biomass.  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 produce energy, displacing fossil fuel use and providing significant carbon reduction benefits to the environment.  The PPRC urges policymakers to continue to recognize the industry’s use of biomass for energy as carbon neutral.
•Cumulative regulatory burden.  The EPA should examine the effect of its regulatory program on the sustainability of the paper industry, balancing the social, environmental and economic impacts of its decisions. All future regulations need to embrace a balanced, sustainable approach to protect the public’s health while preserving family wage manufacturing jobs.
•Fish consumption (human health water quality criteria [HHWQC]).  New national policies that promote tribal treaty rights in environmental protection have led the EPA to pressure states to calculate their HHWQC on unrealistic assumptions, such as a Fish Consumption Rate (FCR) as high as 286 grams/day. The new limits the EPA has imposed has had no significant additional human health protection. The potential cost could be in the billions of dollars to obtain the necessary operating permits. The PPRC feels that the EPA has overstepped its authority and should allow the states to set their own water quality standards.
•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 supports the addition of a sixth axle and additional breaks to increase, capacity, efficiency and safety.
•NAAQS.  The PPRC supports reducing emissions under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). However, counties in our nation need to be able to reach attainment under the 2008 standards before having to reduce their emissions to the 2015 regulations.

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 900,000 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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