Forest Products Employees Raise Concern Over Potential Job Loss From Legislation And Regulations

Feb 12, 2016, 09:09 ET from The Pulp & Paperworkers’ Resource Council (PPRC)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Americans employed in the U.S. forest products industry visited Washington, D.C. this week to meet with members of Congress and administration officials.  Their goal was to educate 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), celebrating its 25th anniversary, is a grassroots organization of hourly employees of the forest products industry who educate on issues that impact jobs in their industry.  More than 65 PPRC members from across the U.S. discussed several issues including the carbon neutrality of biomass and manufacturing byproducts, clean water, endangered species, improving trucking efficiency, preserving paper options for consumers, as well as the regulatory burdens impacting American manufacturing. In addition, PPRC members thanked senators and members of Congress who have joined the Paper and Packaging Caucus, while requesting others join the Caucus. 

During their three days of meetings, PPRC members made 516 legislative and administration visits.

"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 and the communities where we live, work and play."

The forest products industry represents more than 4 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP; it employs about 900,000 people – many in small, rural communities; generates total wages of approximately $50 billion; and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 47 states.

Background on select issues that PPRC members addressed:

Carbon Neutrality of Biomass: The biomass harvested from sustainably managed forests has been recognized repeatedly as being carbon neutral around the world. EPA has indicated that some wood-derived byproducts are carbon neutral, but the forest products manufacturing industry needs greater certainty regarding the carbon neutrality of biomass energy in regulations such as the Clean Power Plan. About two-thirds of the energy that paper mills use is carbon-neutral bioenergy from forest products manufacturing residuals.  The use of these residuals and the continuing planting of trees have produced a sustainable industry that has seen net increases in forest stocks over the last 50 years. 

Clean Water: The Clean Water Act is one of our nation's most successful and wide-ranging environmental programs. However, EPA has been imposing policies that will make Human Health Water Quality Criteria much more stringent, resulting in more waters being listed as impaired and extremely costly and unattainable permit limits.  The new limits that EPA is imposing will have no significant additional human health protection.    

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. The cumulative regulatory burden of many pending air regulations, such as implementing the Clean Power Plan, could threaten jobs.  Congress should require by law that agencies show that the benefits of regulations justify the costs. 

Endangered Species Act: Forest products industry employees support Endangered Species Act reform.  Protecting truly endangered species is in the best interests of the public.  The regulations established to implement these interests should be based on sound science, and the impact on people, property and jobs should be evaluated when making the regulations.  After 30 years, the ESA needs to be modernized and updated.

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SOURCE The Pulp & Paperworkers’ Resource Council (PPRC)