October 28, 2014

CREW Report: Timber Industry Ramps Up Political Spending

TimberWashington, D.C.—Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a new report, Log Roll, detailing the timber industry’s significant increases in political and lobbying spending since 2008, aimed at weakening or delaying potential environmental regulations threatening its profits.

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said, “The timber industry has followed the tried and true path of increasing political spending to ward off regulation. Sadly, this is just par for the course.”

The industry’s lobbying spending rose 15 percent between 2008 and 2013, and campaign contributions from the timber industry to federal candidates also increased by 15 percent between the 2008 and 2012 election cycles. Expenditures went up as the industry fought proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions on greenhouse gas and toxic chemical runoff. Big increases by timber company International Paper and the National Alliance of Forest Owners drove the overall increase, with International Paper alone ramping up its lobbying spending by 47 percent between 2008 and 2013.

"The weapon of choice in today’s Washington is cash. By ramping up its political spending, the industry frustrated EPA efforts to protect the environment," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said. “Who cares about the environment as long as the industry keeps raking in enough money to pay off Congress?”

CREW's report documents the big spending used by timber companies to combat EPA regulations:

  • The industry's lobbying expenditures grew from $13.2 million in 2008 to $15.1 million in 2013.
  • Federal election campaign contributions by the timber industry grew from $5.5 million in the 2008 election cycle to $6.3 million in the 2012 election cycle.
  • International Paper spent more than $21.8 million on lobbying between 2008 and 2013, $6 million more than the next highest-spending timber company.

"The timber industry's spending didn't just dilute and delay proposed EPA regulations. It also secured an extension of wood biomass subsidies as well as protections against future runoff restrictions and litigation in the 2014 farm bill. This is a case study of how shockingly easy it can be to turn proposed environmental protections into pulp—if you’ve got the cash," Ms. Sloan added.

Read CREW's full report.

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