Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law on Wednesday, March 25th legislation that recognizes the essential role Washington state’s forestry industry and working forests play in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
The legislation formally establishes a state policy recognizing and supporting the complete forest products sector as a climate solution, which includes landowners, mills, bioenergy, pulp and paper, harvesting and transportation infrastructure necessary to continue sustainable forestry, production and transportation of the state’s wood products.
Before signing, Gov. Inslee touted the environmental benefits of a robust forestry industry and affirmed that it is in the public’s interest to support all aspects of a fully integrated forest sector in the state. Gov. Inslee also praised the primary bill sponsors Rep. Bill Ramos and Sen. Kevin Van de Wege for their efforts.
“This bill recognizes the importance of our forest products sector and the state’s goal to sequester carbon and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” Inslee said. “We can support rural communities, living wage jobs and climate change actions by managing healthy forests, sustainably harvesting trees and replanting new crops for the next generation. This bill will help us do those things, thanks, Rep. Ramos and Sen Van de Wege.”
Leaders of the Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA) and the American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) say the new law represents an important step toward ensuring a robust forestry industry while promoting sustainability. A briefing about the bill can be found here Legislative Analysis HB 2528.
“This legislation recognizes the importance of trees, wood and paper products in absorbing and storing carbon,” said Mark Doumit, WFPA Executive Director. “Recognition that the forest and wood products sector, including landowners, mills, bioenergy, pulp and paper, and the related harvesting and transportation infrastructure is part of our state’s natural climate solution, also supports rural communities and jobs.”
Once enacted into law, state agencies would recognize and support efforts by the timber industry to sequester carbon through reforestation and transference to long-lived wood products. The legislation also encourages landowners to grow more trees that promote air quality and sequester carbon from the atmosphere by promoting investments in sustainable forestry and wood production.
“We thank Gov. Inslee for approving this legislation, and we appreciate the overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the Legislature for recognizing our entire industry is essential to state climate solutions,” said AFRC President Travis Joseph. “The state understands the enormous potential for sustainable and renewable Washington-grown and manufactured wood products, which not only store carbon for generations, but support thousands of family-wage jobs as well.”
Washington private forests and wood products sector sequesters 12% of the state’s carbon emissions, and working forests play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gases. Sustainably managed forests provide a renewable timber supply of wood-based goods that retain the stored carbon throughout the life of the wood product, making the forestry industry one of the most effective and natural ways sequester carbon.
The bill will go into effect 90 days after March 12th, when the session ended.