September Environmental News
Environmental news affecting the forest products industry.
By Staff Writer
Date Posted: 9/1/1999
A coalition of U.S. and international preservationistshas launched a campaign to block a new global trade agreement. The pact wouldeliminate tariffs on wood products. The environmentalists want tariffnegotiations linked to preservation of world forests.
The environmentalists also filed a lawsuit in federal courtin Seattle against the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Thelawsuit challenges two advisory committees set up to give the administrationinput on trade policy relating to forest products. The panels are made up ofrepresentatives from the wood and paper products industries and have no membersrepresenting environmental interests, they argue.
A new agreement is expected to be signed bymany of the more than 130 nations scheduled to attend a meeting of the World TradeOrganization in Seattle in November. The new agreement could boostconsumption of wood products worldwide by 3% to 4%.
"It would be a big shot in the arm for the U.S. industryand particularly for the Northwest," said Barry Polsky, a spokesman for the AmericanForest and Paper Association.
A deal between British Columbia and MacMillanBloedel involving Vancouver Island has environmentalistsstirred up.
The deal gives the provincial government the option of paying thecompany $83.75 million in cash in compensation for lost timber rights on Crown land usedfor new parks. The government also may privatize tracts of Crown land on theisland, an option that has angered environmentalists.
A federal appeals court panel indicated it may reject atimber companys request to recover legal fees from an environmental groupthat unsuccessfully sued over logging practices in Californias Humboldt County. Butjudges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also seemed troubled by three of thecourts own conflicting precedents on fee awards.
Pacific Lumber Co. is trying to turn the tableson its environmental critics. Environmentalists frequently request legal fees if theyprevail in litigation. Pacific Lumber says it deserves $670,000 in legal feesbecause it won a lawsuit brought under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Forest Service closed a logging road onMount Hood National Forest in Oregon in an effort to block attempts by protestorsto supply an activist who suspended herself in a tree. The unidentifiedwoman rigged herself up in a cargo net 60 feet above the road.
It was the latest confrontation with the Forest Serviceover logging in four areas known as the Eagle timber sale.Several protesting tree-sitters have been demonstrating against the sales forseveral months.
A federal judge in Coeur dAlene, Idahorefused to bring a halt to emergency logging around Hayden Lake.
U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge took no action afterlistening to eight hours of testimony. He will consider arguments fromenvironmental groups, the Forest Service and private landowners before decidingwhether to block fast-track logging on 4,000 acres.
The Idaho Panhandle National Forest received permission from the ForestService in Washington, D.C. to start logging before appeals are resolved. The emergencylogging was approved because of fire danger posed by dying trees.
Environmentalists are forging partnerships withbig corporations to achieve their agenda. Both are after the same thing winningover consumers.
Groups like Greenpeace have lost membership. To gain respectability,they try to work with big business. Some companies are working with thembecause they see a consumer demand for environmentally friendly products.
One example: the Forestry Stewardship Council, anonprofit group based in Mexico. It sets stringent international standards for timberpractices in order to earn the councils "Sustainable Forest Product"label. About 100 European companies have signed up, including Britainslargest home-improvement chain, B&Q. B&Q executives have pledged to buy certifiedsustainable lumber products by next year.
The Rainforest Action Network is starting up protestsagain against Home Depot. The group wants Home Depot to stop sellingproducts made of old-growth wood. Home Depot has said it would limit the use of old-growthproducts and that it works with a third-party certifier to verify that products areenvironmentally sound.
An explosive device was found recently near the home improvement retailersheadquarters in Atlanta, but authorities said Rainforest Action Network was notimplicated.
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