03 Jun

PHASE ONE OF U.S.- CHINA TRADE DEAL DOESN’T MEASURE UP, SO WHY EXPAND LOGGING IN THE TONGASS?

Anticipated Chinese demand for American products won’t meet expectations, could result in wasteful destruction of Tongass forest

Alexandria, VA– China has reportedly failed to meet trade expectations with the US to fulfill the terms of Phase One of the January 2020 trade deal made between the two countries. The future of profitable trade between the U.S. and China is murkier than ever, amidst the coronavirus pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China, and has caused the deaths of over 100,000 Americans.  The U.S. Forest Service proposal to expand logging by eliminating the Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest, where the majority of raw log exports from that forest are purchased by the Chinese, would further expand American economic loss. Logging in the Tongass leads to an annual average subsidization of $30 million that hurts the U.S. taxpayerThe U.S. Forest Service is expected to release its final proposed plan to eliminate roadless rule protections on the Tongass within weeks. Citizens for the Republic, the grassroots organization founded by Ronald Reagan, continues to advocate for the maintenance of the ‘Roadless Rule’ protections of the Alaska Tongass National Forest, aslifting the proposal put forth by the Washington DC bureaucracy will open up nearly 10 million protected acres of the 16.7-million-acre forest to industrial-scale clearcutting and logging.   The USDA’s 2016 “Tongass National Forest Demand: Projections for 2015 to 2030” stated that “the majority of southeast Alaska logs were sent to the Pacific Rim; the share of logs sent there was over 90% in both 2005 and 2011. China is by far the largest single purchaser.”An April report put forth by the USDA and U.S. Forest Service discussing the “Extension of Certain Timber Sale: Contracts; Finding of Substantial Overriding Public Interest” states that: “China has been severely limiting or rejecting imports of softwood lumber and logs due to excess inventory at processing facilities. The oversupply situation has been exacerbated by China’s response to the COVID–19 situation, which led to a general stopping of manufacture and related decline in demand for a log supply and further restricted imports. This is having a significant impact on Alaska timber producers where market conditions are driven by log exports to China.”If the Roadless Rule is lifted, the expanded logging in the Tongass will generate millions for China’s economybut little for America’s economy.Watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense, in accordance with the 2016 Report from the Government Accountability Office, found in 2019 that American taxpayers subsidize the logging industry in the Tongass on average $30 million every year.The current protected areas of the Tongass are strongholds for 28 percent of the commercial salmon harvest across the entire state, withthe Alaskan fishing industry yielding $986 million annually. Tourism, recreational, and fishing/hunting industries within the protected Tongass employ over 10,000 Alaska residents. Recent polling done by Baselice & Associates found that an overwhelming 74% of Alaskan residents surveyed agreed with the following statement: “Our national forests belong to all of us, not large corporations and their lobbyists. We need to protect the Tongass National Forest to ensure that future generations can enjoy the freedom and peacefulness they provide, not sell them off for profit.”  “China’s inability to meet Phase 1 of the US-China trade agreement does not bode well for future trade projections. It makes no sense to open currently protected Tongass National Forest lands to benefit the Chinese economy on the backs of U.S. taxpayers. We cannot destroy the current profitability of the protected Tongass.”says CFTR.

To schedule an interview with a spokesperson for Citizens for the Republic, please contact Francesca Goerg at fgoerg@sbpublicaffairs.com, or call 703.739.5920 

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