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Public Statements

Conservation and Economic Growth Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chairman, my amendment is simple. What it says is that should this legislation pass and the 100,000 acres of forest pass over to the Sealaska Native corporation, a for-profit corporation, that we would ban the export of unprocessed logs from those lands. This would be consistent with the law that applies to the lower 48 west of the Mississippi River.

In 1990, I partnered with Senator Bob Packwood from Oregon to make permanent what had then been an appropriations rider ban since the era of Wayne Morris, and the rationale for that was that we should not be a tree farm for other nations. We want to be an industrial Nation. We want to get value added. We want to export finished products overseas.

We've seen in the last couple of years a flood of private-lands exports from Oregon and Washington, which is timber actually being wasted. Until very recently, the Chinese were paying above-market prices for raw logs, Douglas fir logs, which they were using, prime timber, one time in construction forms, and then discarding, an incredible waste of a resource and also an economic loss to the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the fact that Washington State exported $1 billion worth of non-Federal raw logs last year, which is twice the amount that they exported just 2 years before, the number of logging jobs did not increase despite this export, and the number of sawmill jobs dropped by a third in Washington State. We're exporting a limited natural resource to which we could add value through what we have, the most productive mills in the world in the United States of America. And instead, those logs are going overseas, and we're actually losing jobs.

Yes, it is profitable for the private landowners, and we don't have restrictions on the export of private logs. But this is public forest lands today which would be converted to private forest lands, and we believe that the potential benefits should be maximized should this happen and that these logs should be manufactured before being exported. If they were exported, I would say in fact there would be a substantial raw-log market in my State because my mills are importing timber from around the world, actually, and from other States in the U.S. to keep their mills running.

In Oregon, non-Federal raw-log exports, again private-land exports, have doubled over the last 3 years to $2.3 billion in value while my sawmills and logging industry reached new lows. This harvesting for export of raw logs is not benefiting the local economies or the United States of America. And in Alaska, raw-log exports from Alaska to China have increased 16-fold over the last decade. Yet the economic benefits of running those logs or potentially running those logs through sawmills was not realized, benefiting rural communities.

I have many depressed rural areas that I represent. We're fighting over how we can get some more logs off Federal lands, logs which can't be exported. These logs could not only benefit Alaskans who could use the manufacturing jobs, and perhaps would see some new investment in sawmill capacity should this amount of timber come onto the market, but also potentially other west coast States, including Oregon and Washington, where our sawmills are struggling to find adequate supply.

So I believe this would be a beneficial, commonsense amendment. It would bring Federal logs, Federal trees, Federal forests, and would make the use of those logs, should they be harvested, consistent with the rest of the Federal lands in the western United States.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. DeFAZIO. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I certainly respect the gentleman from Alaska, and I know that it's his intention to benefit the people of Alaska. I've been involved in this issue now for almost--well, for 22 years on the issue of exporting raw logs. In fact, I did try and restrict the export of private logs back there in 1990 and couldn't get that, but at least we got the Federal and at least we've kept the State, and we do get value added. And for every 1,000 board feet of timber harvested, we get more jobs than just a logging job, a trucking job, and a loading it on the ship job. We get the jobs in the mills. I would argue that the same would flow to Alaska should this amendment pass.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time and urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

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