- June 10 - 2.7 million timber industry logging trucks took approximately 13.6
million trees out of National Forests over the last five years, at a cost to taxpayers
of more than $1.7 billion, according to "Public Loss, Private Gain," a report
released today by U.S. PIRG.
"Through their access and
influence in the political process, the timber industry continues to perpetuate
this corporate welfare scheme," said Sims Weymuller, U.S. PIRG’s Wild Forest Campaign
Director. "We cannot allow the timber industry to bulldoze our forests, our pocketbooks
and our political system any longer," concluded Weymuller.
U.S. PIRG selected eight
companies for its "Hall of Shame," based on how much timber they have logged from
National Forests, their environmental records and their influence over policy
making. PIRG’s "Hall of Shame" dishonorees are: Boise Cascade, Sierra Pacific,
Weyerhaeuser, Louisiana-Pacific, International Paper, Georgia-Pacific, Champion
Paper & Plum Creek Timber.
· Boise Cascade
Corp topped the list as the number one timber purchaser from National Forests
over the last five years, and was among the top ten biggest polluters and political
campaign contributors. Boise Cascade Corporation has driven away from the National
Forests with more than 115,000 logging trucks full of timber over the past five
· International Paper
was the largest timber industry polluter in the nation, releasing 36 million of
pounds of toxic chemicals into air, land and water, including 2.3 million pounds
of known or suspected carcinogens. International Paper was also #1 in political
campaign contributions with over $1.1 million in the last three election cycles.
Corporation was highlighted as a "Hall of Shame" dishonoree because they appeared
in the top five for total timber purchasing, total pollution and total money contributed
to political campaigns.
"These companies have proven
to be poor corporate citizens and need to clean up their act," stated Weymuller.
"These same companies, along with others highlighted in the report, continue to
push their anti-environmental agenda in Congress with campaign contributions and
highly paid corporate lobbyists," Weymuller added.
Over the past three election
cycles (1993-1998), the timber companies that log National Forests have contributed
$5.8 million to political campaigns through their political action committees
($4.37 million) and in unregulated "soft money" ($1.46 million.)
In addition, these companies
have hired more than 35 lobby firms and at least 141 lobbyists at a cost of more
than $22.5 million to push their agenda on Capitol Hill and with the Clinton Administration.
Together, these companies have spent more than $28.3 million to perpetuate their
poor environmental practices.
The report identified Congressional
"Heroes" –who, at every opportunity over the last three years, have signed letters
of support or voted on legislation to save taxpayer dollars and protect the National
Forests – and Congressional "Zeros" – those who failed to sign supportive letters
or voted against saving taxpayer dollars and our National Forests. Overall, congressional
"Zeros" in the House received fifty-eight times more campaign dollars than the
forest "Heroes," while Senate "Zeros" received five times more campaign contributions
than the "Heroes".
Four of the top five PAC
recipients in the House were "Zeros:"
Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) $45,891
Jim McCrery (R-LA) $41,147
Charles Taylor (R-NC) $38,349
Don Young (R-AK) $35,727
In the Senate, all of the
top five PAC recipients voted to continue the fiscally irresponsible and environmentally
destructive timber roadbuilding subsidy:
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA)
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-GA)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
"We call on Congress and
the Clinton-Gore Administration to support efforts to protect America's National
Forests, including specific protection for roadless areas and the elimination
of taxpayer subsidies to the timber industry," said Weymuller. "We call on Congress
to enact comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation to protect the democratic
process from the corrupting influence of special interest money," added Weymuller.
U.S. PIRG is the national
advocacy office for the State PIRGs, a network of non-profit, non-partisan consumer
and environmental watchdog organizations