Inslee signs bill recognizing carbon benefits of forest industry

By Erin Voegele | March 27, 2020

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill March 25 that recognizes the contributions of the forest products sector to the state’s climate response and affirms it is in the public interest to support all aspects of a fully integrated forest sector.

The bill, HB 2528, states that Washington should “maintain and enhance the state’s ability to continue to sequester carbon through natural and working lands and forest products” and “support industry sectors that can act as sequesterers of carbon.”  

According to the bill, it is the policy of the state of Washington to “support the contributions of all working forests and the synergistic forest products to the state’s climate response. This includes landowners, mills, bioenergy, pulp and paper, and the related harvesting and transportation infrastructure that is necessary for forestland owners to continue the rotational cycle of carbon capture and sequestration in growing trees and allows forest products manufacturers to store the captured carbon in wood products and maintain and enhance the forest sector’s role in mitigating a significant percentage of the state’s carbon emissions while providing other environmental and social benefits and supporting a strong rural economic base.”

The legislation also states Washington will “support the participation of working forests in current and future carbon markets” and indicates that “any state carbon programs must…recognize the forest product’s industry’s contribution to the state’s climate response.”

The Washington Forest Products Association and the American Forest Resource Council have spoken out in support of the new law, saying it represents an important step toward ensuring a robust forestry industry while promoting sustainability.

"This legislation recognizes the importance of trees, wood and paper products in absorbing and storing carbon," said Mark Doumit, executive director of WFPA. "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."

"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 Travis Joseph, president of AFRC. "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."

Additional information on the bill is available on the Washington Legislature website.