Q&A with Brian Rogers, Future Forests + Jobs

The recently launched Future Forests + Jobs is an initiative aimed at pushing back against anti-forestry and anti-biomass activists.
By Anna Simet | October 21, 2019

The recently launched Future Forests + Jobs is an initiative aimed at pushing back against anti-forestry and anti-biomass activists. Why is this effort needed and what are your goals?

Thanks for the opportunity to share more about this important initiative. Our  goal is to  hold  anti-forestry  and  anti-biomass activists accountable with the facts. Over the past several years, these groups have waged what’s amounted to a large-scale misinformation campaign against wood biomass. They’ve rejected the best science from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has repeatedly affirmed an important role for wood biomass in all solutions to the climate crisis. It’s time to set the record straight with a smart, nimble effort—that’s Future Forests + Jobs.

You talk about a misinformation campaign from biomass opponents. Who are these activist groups and what are the most egregious examples you’re hoping to push back against?

Activist organizations such as the Asheville, North Carolina-based Dogwood Alliance, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project have coordinated this misinformation campaign against the entire forest products sector, but they really singled out biomass in particular. They’ve combined forces in many ways to mislead the public about the industry and its necessary role in mitigating global climate change.

These groups have been caught doing things like taking photos of forestry harvests and presenting false and distorted stories about what kinds of trees were harvested and where, basically spreading fear and disinformation about the industry’s practices. They regularly publish biased reports and studies arguing that the industry causes deforestation, when public data from the USDA and state forestry agencies regularly show forest area actually expanding in areas in which the wood biomass industry operates. The list goes on.

One major point we’ll emphasize is that the practical impact of the policies advanced by these anti-biomass groups would be burning more coal, losing more forests and carbon sink, and killing quality jobs in rural America. That’s exactly the wrong approach we need to fight global climate change today.

As you note, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, generally seen as the gold standard for climate science and research, has recognized biomass as a key tool to mitigate climate change.

Is it concerning that some activist groups have stopped listening to the UN?

Yes. The approach these anti-biomass groups have taken to the IPCC is utterly disingenuous. On the one hand, they regularly cite the IPCC’s grave warnings on the need for immediate action to address the climate crisis. At the same time, they ignore the IPCC’s repeated recommendation that sustainable forestry and wood biomass needs to be part of every pathway to keeping warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Our view is simple—let’s actually listen to the IPCC. You can’t cherry-pick the global authority on climate science. If you’re going to cite the IPCC and rely on their expertise, you can’t turn around and ignore their findings and recommendations.

Who’s supporting the Future Forests + Jobs effort?

Future Forests + Jobs is supported by the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, which advocates for renewable wood energy as a sustainable, low-carbon power source.

Tell us about yourself—what’s your background and how do you think it will help Future Forests + Jobs succeed?

I was lucky to work for the late Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, for about a decade, including four years as his communications director in the U.S. Senate. I previously worked for former Vice President Al Gore’s Repower America campaign for comprehensive climate and energy legislation, and prior to that, was involved in several political campaigns around the country. I think my combination of experience in government and public policy will help us advance the important communications mission of Future Forests + Jobs.

What are some of the tools and tactics Future Forests + Jobs will use to help set the record straight?

Our new website will be a big hub for content at futureforestsandjobs.com—we encourage everyone to come take a look. We’re on social media as well—on Twitter, as @futureforests, and you can also find us on Facebook. We’ll be regularly engaging with the press and rolling out reports, studies and other activities as we move forward, so we’ll be sure to keep in touch.

Contact: Brian Rogers
Spokesman, Future Forests + Jobs
[email protected]