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JUNE 10, 1999  9:15 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
US Public Interest Research Group
Sims Weymuller or Kim Delfino (202) 546-9707
PIRG Report "Public Loss, Private Gain" reveals Big Timber's Dirty Secrets
 
WASHINGTON - 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 years.

· 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. 

· Weyerhaeuser 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) $120,132

Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) $68,628

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) $49,500

Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-GA) $47,000

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) $45,999

"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

 

 
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