It is easy to get wrapped up in what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Even with a strong economy and record low unemployment, the federal government keeps racking up debt at a break neck pace. And even though the Trump Administration has placed a huge priority on cutting wasteful regulations, according to a recent analysis by The National Review the federal government still issued more than 3,300 regulations in 2018 alone. But several recent develops that could impact the North American imported wood products industry have shown that it is also important to know what’s happening in statehouses around the country.
Nowhere is this clearer than in California, the state that gave us Prop 65 and the composite wood products airborne toxic control measure that is more commonly known as CARB 2. IWPA members who sell to contractors involved in state procurement in California were notified early this year about Assembly Bill 572, the California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act. This legislation would require, beginning in 2021, that companies involved in state procurement contracts certify that certain forest-risk commodities such as palm oil, beef, leather, rubber, cocoa, coffee, and wood products were not produced on land where tropical deforestation occurred. Opposition has come from the California’s commercial and industrial building contractors who argue that imposes burdensome and unworkable criteria, particularly when documenting complete supply chains for products not purchased directly from the source.
In New York, the legislature has approved legislation that would ban a number of chemicals including formaldehyde in children’s products. What some surely well-meaning legislators failed to grasp, however, is that many healthy products like wood naturally emit low levels of formaldehyde. Our hope is that reason will prevail, and an accommodation can be made for children’s products that contain wood and TSCA VI/CARB 2 compliant composite wood products before the ban goes into effect in 2023.
There’s always the chance that these proposals are one-offs, pet issues for a state lawmaker or interest group in a given state. And there is no question that our industry has plenty of pressing national and international issues like the trade war between the U.S. and China, congressional consideration of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and proposals to list additional tree species on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. But the risk is that these bills could serve as the model for similar legislative proposals in other states.
These bills show that our collective attention must be focused not only on the national and international levels, but also on statehouses across the country.