[GRRN] WTO - Wood and Paper Products

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 10:53:46 -0600


Ecologists gain spot on trade panels
Judge rules they can advise on wood talks
Wednesday, November 10, 1999

Environmentalists are entitled to representation on committees advising
federal officials about how to negotiate trade agreements governing wood
and paper products, a judge ruled yesterday.
U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky must name at least one
environmentalist to each of two panels that advise her on wood and
paper-product negotiations, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein
Limiting membership on the advisory committees to timber and paper
industry officials violated the Federal Advisory Council Act, which
requires the advisory panels represent a "fair balance" of viewpoints,
Rothstein ruled.
Rothstein directed Barshefsky to "expedite the appointment" of at least
one environmentalist to the 15-member committee on wood products and one
environmentalist on the 10-person paper products committee.
The committees in question -- among more than two dozen that advise the
government on international trade -- have pushed for elimination of
tariffs on wood and paper products.
Environmentalists say such a move would increase worldwide consumption
of paper and wood products, leading to more logging. They want the
tariff reductions postponed until environmental safeguards can be
instituted. The issue will be taken up later this month when the World
Trade Organization meets in Seattle.
The industry-dominated advisory committees also have come out against
allowing foreign nations to subsidize costs incurred by foreign timber
companies for complying with new environmental regulations.
"The highly charged nature and the stakes at issue in the free
trade-environment debate over timber sales are well documented,"
Rothstein ruled. "Matters affecting the wood and paper products sector
are dramatically and inextricably intertwined with the environmental
health and protection of this nation."
Her decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice Legal
Defense Fund on behalf of six environmental organizations.
"Finally, a long-existing wrong is slowing being righted," said Patti
Goldman of Earthjustice, the attorney who filed the suit, in a prepared
statement. "It is both unfair and illegal to load up these panels with
industry representatives."
A spokesman for Barshefsky's office could not be reached by telephone
last night.

Peter Anderson
RecycleWorlds Consulting
4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011