[HPN] A Trade Agreement That's Good for Forests? SLA comments due April 14

William Tinker wtinker@fcgnetworks.net
Tue, 4 Apr 2000 15:20:01 -0400

A Brother

 TO: Forest Activists
FROM: Antonia Juhasz, American Lands Alliance
DATE: April 4, 2000
 Let's Write A Trade Agreement That is GOOD For Forests.
Provide Comments on the Softwood Lumber Agreement by April 14.
 In stark contrast to the Global Free Logging Agreement, the
U.S./Canadian Softwood  Lumber Agreement (SLA) uses tariffs to limit
access by the heavily subsidized Canadian timber industry to U.S.
markets.  These tariffs have the effect of reducing the flow of
subsidized Canadian lumber into the U.S.
 Signed in 1996, the agreement expires in March, 2001.  The renegotiation
of the SLA  provides us with the opportunity to show our government that
the SLA can truly protect forests by addressing all of the Canadian
subsidies for lumber that have such a  devastating impact on Canadian
forests.  It also gives us the opportunity to force the U.S. government
to apply important environmental laws to a forest trade agreement.  
Therefore, it is vital that forest activists respond to the call for
public comments on the SLA due on April 14.  You can sign on to a group
statement by Northwest Ecosystem Alliance and/or use this statement as a
model for your own submission.  
 The sign-on statement and the Federal Register notice can be found on
site at http://www.americanlands.org/forestweb/action.htm.
The Canadian government is liquidating its centuries old forests
primarily to meet the voracious  appetite of U.S. consumers.  The
Canadian government provides massive environmental, social and economic
subsidies to its timber industry.  These subsidies have led British
Columbia and other Provinces to log their forests at grossly
unsustainable rates that if continued, will literally liquidate the
remaining primary forests in fifteen years.  Canada also has no federal
endangered species laws, minimal stream protections and provides little
opportunity for citizens to participate in resources management
decisions.  This subsidization and lack of environmental protection
spills over the border and compromises U.S. efforts to protect
endangered species such as grizzly bears, bull trout, salmon and
 woodland caribou. 
 While the agreement was written with the goal of protecting the U.S.
timber industry from its subsidized competitors in the North, it has the
potential to reduce the U.S. market for Canadian lumber, increase
pressure on the Canadian government to implement desperately needed
environmental protections and force the U.S. government to apply
environmental protection laws to trade agreement.  To this end, in 1998,
a group of U.S. environmental organizations sued the U.S. government
over its entry into the SLA.  The lawsuit seeks application of the
National Environmental Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act to
the agreement.  The renegotiation of the SLA provides the best
opportunity to apply environmental and species protections to forest
products trade agreements.
 Neither the U.S. nor the Canadian government have indicated a
willingness to renegotiate the SLA.  The U.S. government is under
pressure from the home-building industry to eliminate the agreement so
that more cheap timber can flow into the U.S.  Unless the government
hears from YOU, this  opportunity to strengthen the SLA so that it truly
addresses the subsidies that are destroying  Canada's rainforests will
be lost.  
 For more information, see the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance website
http://www.ecosystem.org/pr-2.html and contact Antonia Juhasz at
antonia@americanlands.org or (202) 547-9230.