The Pulp & Paperworkers' Resource Council (PPRC) is a grassroots organization of hourly employees of the forest products industry who work on issues that impact jobs in their industry. PPRC members from across the U.S. visited Washington this week to discuss the issue with administration officials of the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Domestic Policy Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Forest Service.
"At a time when everyone in our country is concerned about the loss of manufacturing jobs, our U.S. forest products industry is important to our nation's economy, representing about 5 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP," said Melvin Dixon, PPRC chairman. "It employs 900,000 people - many in small, rural communities - and generates total wages of $50 billion in communities across our country."
The PPRC spoke out about the caseGeorgia-Pacific West, Inc., et al., v. Northwest Environmental Defense Centerin which the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled that forest roads come under the same section of the Clean Water Act as factories, mines and chemical plants. This ruling overturned 35 years of Environmental Protection Agency practice that consistently has held that forest road stormwater runoff is most effectively addressed by state forestry best management practices instead of the same criteria that apply to industrial facilities.
Recognizing the importance of this issue, the Supreme Court has called for the views of the U.S. Solicitor General, who soon will file a brief stating whether it thinks the Supreme Court should review the Ninth Circuit's decision.
"Over the past several decades, our industry has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs," Dixon said. "The Ninth Circuit's decision would trade American jobs for a permitting system that experts say will do nothing to improve the environment. If not overruled, the Ninth Circuit decision will have a direct, negative impact on our industry by increasing regulatory and legal costs, causing even more job losses. Our council and the thousands of hard-working Americans it represents are asking the Supreme Court to review this case and overturn the Ninth Circuit decision."
The United States is one of the world's most diverse exporters of sustainable forest products. In 2010, the value of U.S. exports of forest products was an estimated $27.4 billion. Exports account for about 15 percent of total U.S. forest products sales. The industry also generates economic benefits from indirect exports - such as domestic sales of paper, paperboard and wood packaging materials - that are used to package and transport goods exported by other U.S. industries.