FIRST ON FOX: A bipartisan group of lawmakers penned a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai urging her to engage with European leaders to prevent environmental regulations from harming U.S. industry.
The coalition of 28 House lawmakers — led by Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., and joined by GOP Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith, R-Mo., and six Democrats including Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. — expressed concern that the European Union’s (EU) so-called “Deforestation-free Regulation” (EUDR) will create burdensome and costly requirements, limiting U.S. exporters’ market access.
“The United States does not have a deforestation problem,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter sent Friday and obtained by Fox News Digital. “The industry needs your engagement with the EC and EU member states to insist upon EUDR implementation that focuses on countries in which illegal deforestation is occurring, and more accurately aligns regulatory and documentation requirements with the U.S. supply chain and production practices.”
“The United States has a strong foundation in sustainable forest management and supports international efforts to address deforestation,” they continued. “However, without recognition of different regional factors that drive deforestation, the EU’s regulation imposes impractical requirements that would unnecessarily restrict trade for products from low-risk countries that have responsibly managed supply chains, such as the United States.”
Earlier this year, the EU approved the EUDR in an effort to protect forests around the world and combat climate change. The regulations, which went into effect in late June and which companies must be in compliance with by late 2024, force companies to confirm that their products crossing into the EU have been produced on land that has not been subject to “deforestation or forest degradation” after 2020.
Under the rules, companies that export a wide variety of products — including palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber, rubber, beef, furniture and chocolate — will be forced to conduct “strict due diligence” on their supply chains.
According to the letter last week, the U.S. paper and pulp industry, which produces everything from baby diapers and feminine hygiene products to boxes and packaging, would be greatly impacted by the rules. They noted the industry creates $350 billion in manufacturing output, is among the top 10 manufacturing employers in 43 states and employs more than 925,000 people directly while supporting more than 2 million indirect jobs.
At the same time, America’s forests are growing in size, they wrote. The U.S. Forest Service data shows more than a billion trees are planted on an annual basis in the U.S., and the total national forest area has grown by 18 million acres over the last 30 years.
“It is imperative that you engage with the EC and EU member states to ensure that paper and pulp producers and their thousands of workers throughout the United States will not be harmed by these EU regulations,” they concluded in their letter to Tai.
Steel and the other lawmakers added that the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, should identify the U.S. as a “low risk” origin of deforestation. If not, they said the requirements could lead to “higher prices” for consumers and lead to job losses.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.