Feb. 2, 2024 - Approximately 72 American workers employed in the U.S. forest products industry descended on Washington, D.C., this week and made more than 535 visits with Members of Congress and Administration officials. Their goal was 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 and Paperworkers' Resource Council (PPRC), a grassroots organization of hourly employees in the forest products industry, are passionate about educating Members of Congress and Administration 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 represent 53 mills across 18 states.
"Our annual Washington, D.C., fly-in provides the PPRC with an impactful 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 regulations and their impact on permitting, as well as forest management," said PPRC Chairman Matt Hall. "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:
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. By lowering the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards (PM NAAQS) so close to background levels, the rule would leave insufficient margin for permits to be approved — even in many cleaner attainment areas — for modernization projects at manufacturing plants across our nation that frequently lower emissions per ton of production.
Forest Management - 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. Forests sequester carbon, and this is where our industry finds our renewable natural resources that support family wage jobs and local businesses.
Recycling - The PPRC believes a one-size-fits-all solution does not work for all commodities. Paper's strong recycling success record is proof that it is part of the solution. Congress should focus on solutions for materials with low recovery rates that contaminate the system and the elimination of products such as single use plastics.
Endangered Species Act - Forest products industry employees support Endangered Species Act (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. The economic and social impact on people, property, and jobs should be evaluated when making the regulations.
Beneficial Use of Paper Mill Residuals - The PPRC asks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recognize and support the safe and beneficial use of mill residuals. The paper industry stopped using long-chain PFAS over a decade ago, so we are not a source of new loadings into the environment. PFOA and PFOS are widespread in the environment, and detection limits are extremely low, so they sometimes can be detected in residuals, albeit lower than the background levels found in common house dust.
Renewable Biomass - The PPRC asks U.S. policymakers to support our carbon beneficial bioenergy as a fuel of the future. The PPRC calls on Congress to approve proposals that recognize the carbon neutrality of the bioenergy produced by the forest products industry.
Water Quality - Any revisions to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule/Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule should maintain an effective wastewater treatment exclusion, to avoid the imposition of unsustainable requirements on our mills.
Logistics of Forest Products - The PPRC supports Congress' efforts to make the proper investments in our nation's roads and bridges so that businesses can compete in a cost-effective, efficient, and safe manner. The PPRC appreciates Congress' passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and continues to support investments and policies that will ease congestion and create safe, stronger highways, waterways and ports.
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 January 30.
PULP & PAPERWORKERS' RESOURCE COUNCIL
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 925,000 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.
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 2024, please visit www.thepprc.org.
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