Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Sierra Club and United Steelworks Union target illegal logging

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The Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers (USW) are both voicing concerns over a decision by regulators which they say would grant special exemptions for pulp and paper from the Lacey Act reforms of 2008.

“These landmark reforms aim to protect the world’s forests and communities by halting the import and sale of illegally-produced wood products in the U.S.,” according to a statement released on Tuesday by the USW. “Under the Lacey Act reforms an importer must declare the country and harvest of origin for their products, an essential step to creating transparency in a previously unregulated market where the U.S. demand was driving de-forestation around the world.”

“Fully incorporating all wood products, including pulp and paper, into the declaration requirement is essential if the Lacey Act’s potential is to be fully realized and global trade in illegally-sourced wood products is to decrease,” said Margrete Strand Rangnes, director of the Sierra Club’s Labor, Workers’ Rights, and Trade Program.

“In the U.S. illegal logging makes it impossible for workers and companies to compete,” the statement said. “Because illegal loggers do not pay fees to their government or pay the market price for the trees they cut, they are able to sell their products for less than legitimate timber companies.”

“The USW has seen true devastation among our members as multiple plants have closed or reduced production, in large part because of imports from nations where illegal logging is a large part of the timber supply,” said Holly Hart, legislative director of the USW.

“According to the USW, the multiple plant closing and curtailments taken together have and will impact adversely many hundreds of USW members, including a very significant fraction of the workers remaining in the coated paper sector,” the statement said. “There will be additional harm done to the communities in which these impacted facilities are located as the effects of the closings and curtailments ripple through local economies.”

“Around the world illegal logging harms communities, degrading drinking water supplies and breeding corruption and crime that often threaten the lives of citizens who want sustainable jobs and lasting protection for the natural legacy of their countries,” the statement said. “Illegal timber syndicates are responsible for murdering and exploiting citizens in Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, and other nations.”

The Sierra Club and the USW “believe that a strong enforcement program for the Lacey Act, covering the imports of wood, wood products, pulp, and paper, will allow our national to significantly reduce de-forestation around the world.”



Posted 11/4/2009




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