The TPP, the Biomassacre and the End Game for the Great Forests of the Northwest

New York’s Third Senator Ron Wyden, (D-Ecocide) had a banner week. First, the media and social memes were ubiquitous on the hours-long Faux Resistance mounted against the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal pushed by Obama. Wyden’s joining other Dems in the faux resistance got big media play and allowed die-hard Dem boosters to ignore (for a few hours, anyway) his long-standing role as TPP’s main sponsor of the (fait accompli) Senate legislation – at the behest of the usualoligarchs.

Other “liberal” Dems, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Dianne Feinstein of California, and Christopher Coons of Delaware, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and others also took cover and voted with the faux resistance on Tuesday’s meaningless procedural vote. Predictably, the resistance quickly collapsed after the press releases went out and a dealwas cut by Wyden et al. to fast track Fast Track.


The TPP Ten – multi-millionaire Democrat senators who support TPP and pretended to oppose it

The Biomassacre

“Using woody biomass for heat and power can help fund wildfire risk reduction and forest restoration, all while creating low-carbon energy and a stable source of jobs in rural economies across the country.”

— from Wyden’s summary of his BioEnergy Act

Secondly, Wyden followed-up his recent successes at pushing dramatically higher logging levels on Oregon’s O & C National Forests and Eastside Forests bill pushing massive increased logging on nine million acres of Oregon’s Eastside public-owned pine forests  — with The BioEnergy Act of 2015 – which purports to create “Healthy Forests by “thinning” out thickets of smaller trees (called “hazardous fuels” with no sense of irony by Wyden and other boosters, including many of the usual foundation-controlled “enviros”) and burning them for “”heat and power” – a fuel source 1.5 times dirtier than burning coal!

“Many environmental organizations—Defenders of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Pacific Rivers Council, National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Oregon Wild, to name a few—support the  science-based restoration that would be implemented under this legislation”

Oregon Wild’s Testimony on Wyden’s Oregon Eastside Forest Raid

At the same time that Oregon Wild and the others involved in the disreputable forest “collaboration” process were lining up behind the Eastside logging bill, I was noting it was a stalking horse for a huge Biomass removal and burning for electrons  scheme. Well, now it’s here. Not only is the thinning the “overstocked” forest for fire prevention premise behind both the Eastside bill and the BioEnergy Act dead wrong, it is, according to real science-based research, neither sustainable nor low-carbon energy.

Exporting Ecosystems

Where does Wyden’s support for TPP fit into all this forest stuff? NIKE, of course. But, forests?

“Knowledgeable environmentalists shouldn’t have anything against the measure.”

— George Frampton, Clinton’s Council on Environmental Quality and former head of the Wilderness Society on NAFTA

Judging by past such Trade Deals, there will be a lot of rhetoric about “protecting jobs and worker’s rights and the environment” – anyone remember NAFTA’s rickety labor and environment “Sideboards.” Speaking of Faux Resistance, after the “sideboards” are proffered, TPP will sail through, just like NAFTA did with considerable Big Green support.

But leaked TPP documents show the inclusion of non-transparent courts that would allow corporations to challenge domestic environmental policies that they claim would constitute a restraint of fair trade. The one at play here and a major reason Wyden supports TPP is that Big Timber is currently banned from exporting any trees cut off of public land as a raw product – raw lag, chips or cants (slabbed logs); whereas, close to 100% of all trees cut on Big Timber’s vast private holdings are currently exported as a raw product. (Daily, trains loaded with raw logs cut from Oregon’s Coast Range roll thru my neighborhood on the way to the docks and then off to Asia.)

Big Timber and their overseas partners have been itching to do away with the public forest export ban and TPP is the camel’s nose under the tent. Already there is a huge global market for wood chips and pellets to be burned for electrons. Massive amounts of trees are exported from the Amazon, the US Southwest and British Columbia to feed the boilers of Europe – and England, Germany et al. even garner Carbon Off-Sets Credits for importing and burning the biomass (a hugely carbon-intensive endeavor) – said credits are then used to off-set increased coal use in Germany and elsewhere – despite then ubiquitous false “Germany gets its power  from renewables” memes.

Pellet exports from the US have quadrupled the last five years! Expect such increases to happen yearly once TPP passes. That “giant, sucking sound” comes from a dock-side machine that sucks up ground-up ecosystems and blows them into the hold of a ship

Cui bono?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, like NAFTA, is terrible for US workers, terrible for workers in the countries the jobs are exported to, devastating to ecosystems and the atmosphere. Ron Wyden might not have to deal with the stumps, silted rivers, dead salmon and other species of his Logging, Biomass and Export support while hanging in New York and Washington, but those of us who live in Oregon will. But, there will be no hiding by anyone from the economic and ecological collapse he’s proudly ushering in.

MICHAEL DONNELLY ran on the environment against Ron Wyden in the December 1995 Democratic Party Primary to replace the disgraced Sen. Bob Packwood. He received 20,000 votes and got Wyden to go on record calling for protection for Opal Creek’s Ancient Forest. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com


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MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

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