WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2023 -- Approximately 90 American workers employed in the U.S. forest products industry descended on Washington, D.C., this week and made more than 550 visits with Members of Congress and administrative officials.
Their goal: to educate elected officials on the impacts of legislative and regulatory decisions on the environment and on the families and communities that depend on forest products manufacturing for their livelihood.
The group of workers from the Pulp & Paperworkers' Resource Council (PPRC), a grassroots organization of hourly employees in the forest products industry, are passionate about educating Members of Congress and administrative officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Office of Management and Budget, and other government agencies on issues affecting American manufacturing jobs in their industry. They represented 57 mills across 22 states.
"Our annual Washington, DC, fly-in provides the PPRC with a wonderful opportunity to visit with Congressional and Administration leaders on environmental issues impacting our industry -- especially on topics like renewable biomass energy and its carbon neutrality, paper recycling, air permitting, and forest management," said PPRC Chairman David Wise. "The importance of clear, common-sense legislation and regulatory policy cannot be understated, as that foundation is vital to supporting continued growth of manufacturing jobs in rural and urban communities and ensuring a competitive playing field for the American forest products industry in the global market."
The PPRC specifically discussed several issues with members of Congress, including:
- Renewable Biomass Energy – The PPRC asks U.S. policymakers to support our carbon beneficial bioenergy as a fuel of the future. The PPRC calls on the EPA and Congress to approve proposals that recognize the carbon neutrality of bioenergy produced at paper and wood products mills.
- Air Permitting – The PPRC recommends that new Clean Air Act rules consider environmental, social, and economic impacts to set sustainable standards and policies to keep our mills competitive and promote job growth in our facilities. Air quality in America has improved dramatically in the last several decades due in part to more efficient, cleaner operating paper mills.
- Improving the Health of Federal Forests – The PPRC supports measures to better manage our forests to increase resilience and growth in the wake of fires, hurricanes, disease, insects, and natural disasters. PPRC would support legislation to help fund fire suppression, forest inventory, and sustainable forest management.
- Reforming the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – Forest products industry employees support ESA 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, not political science. The impact on people, property, and jobs should be evaluated when making the regulations.
- Paper Recycling is an Environmental Success Story – Highly recycled paper products should not be included in Federal Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation. The U.S. paper recycling rate was 68 percent in 2021. The recycling rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) was 91.4 percent. According to the EPA, by weight, more paper is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than metals, glass, and plastics combined.
In addition, David Wise announced that after serving 10 years as chairman of the PPRC, he will retire that role effective June 30, 2023. Matt Hall of WestRock Company at Covington, Virginia, has been elected to serve as the next PPRC Chairman.
The PPRC members also thanked the Members of Congress who have joined the Paper and Packaging Caucus, and those Members who attended the Caucus Congressional Reception on February 8.
The PPRC is a grassroots labor organization led by hourly employees advocating for the U.S. forest products industry. We support policies that encourage economic growth, an abundant and sustainable fiber supply, and sensible science-based environmental policies. The U.S. forest products industry is vitally important to our nation's economy, employing approximately 950,000 people. We rank among the top 10 manufacturers in 45 states and represent 4% of total U.S. manufacturing GDP. We are people dedicated to conserving the environment while taking into account the economic stability of the workforce and surrounding community.
PULP & PAPERWORKERS' RESOURCE COUNCIL
Representing members of: USW, IAM, IBEW, IUOE, CPU, UA, and Forest Products Industry Workers. For more information and to see the PPRC Position Summary papers from 2023, please visit www.thepprc.org.