Tester Fights Against EPA’s Attempt to Discount Local Lumber

EPA’s recommendation regarding sustainable forestry disadvantages Montana’s wood producers

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is pushing back against the EPA’s proposed interim recommendations regarding the federal government’s procurement of lumber.

In September of last year, the EPA recommended that the federal government purchase wood products certified only under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Standard. This recommendation implicitly disadvantages lumber certified under two other programs with similar rigorous standards and sustainability goals that are widely used in Montana. Montana does not currently have any FSC certified forests.

“It makes absolutely no sense to ignore Montana timber products just because they’re certified under one program instead of the other.” Tester said. “With this proposal, the EPA is creating a system that disadvantages Montana. It needs to be withdrawn immediately.”

Forest certification programs, like the FSC Standard, are voluntary third-party programs that provide a set of agreed-upon standards for sustainable forest management. The three most popular programs in the U.S. are the FSC Standard, the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) and the American Tree Farm System (ATFS). All three are widely-adopted and verified by independent and rigorous third-party auditors.

More than 70 percent of all certified forests in the United States are certified under the SFI or ATFS. This means the wood products that come from a majority of certified, sustainable forests in the U.S.-including all of the forests participating in certification programs in Montana-are unfairly discounted by the EPA’s current recommendation. This recommendation is also inconsistent with other guidelines listed on the EPA’s website, and contradicts recommendations from a number of other federal agencies.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Tester urged the EPA to evaluate their own internal inconsistencies while working with other agencies to develop a final recommendation regarding sustainable lumber standards. Tester emphasized that this final recommendation should be made available for public comment before being finalized. In the meantime, Tester encouraged the federal government to consider wood products certified under all three programs when purchasing lumber.

Tester’s letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is available HERE.