The USDA Needs to Hear from you!

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting comments to determine how their agency will undertake climate change mitigation and resilience through April 29th.

We are submitting our comments and we need you to submit comments, too!

This blog will provide a high-level overview of our message and guide you through the submission process.

On President Biden’s first day in office, he issued an Executive Order to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad- bringing a renewed focus on environmental and climate justice. Each of the Administration’s agencies must submit their plans to achieve the goals laid out in the recent Executive Order. It’s our opportunity and responsibility to submit feedback on the USDA’s role, considering the Forest Service is a division of the USDA.

The questions around forestry are particularly troubling and advance the industry narrative of wood products as a climate solution — you can see the questions here.

For decades, the USDA and Forest Service have shut out environmental justice and frontline community voices. The people of these communities have been chronically under-resourced, discriminated against, subjected to state-funded police violence, and exposed to toxic pollution through industrial extraction of resources. Even more, the forests and communities of the Southeastern US have become a sacrifice zone, bearing the brunt of the impacts of our nation’s unsustainable wood production and consumption.

Does clean energy mean clearcutting bottomland hardwood forests?

Much of our nation’s wood production is consistently concentrated in rural communities of color across the Black Belt of the US South.

Where poverty, unemployment rates, and other indicators of socio-economic stress remain high. Wood production and industrial forestry are not a sound rural economic development strategy. If they were, the economy in these communities would be thriving not struggling.

Wood pellet plants are expanding throughout all of the US, polluting our air and clearcutting the best natural tool we have against climate change: our forests. Source: Southern Environmental Law Center

We cannot continue to ignore the climate impacts of the forest industry.

To do so means we have no hope to substantially reduce global greenhouse emissions in accord with the Paris Climate Agreement. Logging is a major driver of climate change. It’s time that we reduce the “productivity” of forests in exchange for reaping more of the climate and carbon benefits they provide. Programs, funding, and financing should be directed towards the sequestration of carbon dioxide over more traditional approaches to forestry management.

Given that we have an opportunity to partake in this public process, Dogwood Alliance plans on submitting comments, and we want you to as well. The more individual submissions, the better. If you prefer to sign onto our comments and be represented that way, you can do so here.

Find Dogwood Alliance’s comment here. Our topline messages will be:

  1. We must acknowledge and address the impacts of the forest industry on climate change. We know that logging is a major driver of climate change and biomass will make the problem worse not better. Rather than ignore these impacts, we must properly quantify them. And make decisions about our federal investments that address their impacts, not expand them.
  2. Equity and environmental justice must be at the center of government policies on forests and climate change. The rural Blackbelt of the Southern US can no longer be a sacrifice zone.
  3. We need to rethink forest policy and the forest economy. We must transition tax and regulatory incentives from industrial extraction to a restorative economy. One that aligns with pro-forestation, outdoor recreation, and other regenerative economic actions. This must be at the center of our federal efforts to restore rural economies and Build Back Better.

How do I submit comments?

  • Comments may be submitted online via the Federal eRulemaking portal.
  • Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for the Docket No. USDA-2021-0003.
  • Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

Join us and submit your comment before the April 29th deadline. If you’d like additional guidance and information for your comments, please contact me, Rita, at [email protected]

12 Responses to “The USDA Needs to Hear from you!”

  1. Janalee Stock

    At this critical tipping point in the history of mankind and this planet let’s not forget what got us here. Ignoring science, raping the earth of natural resources without pause for sustainable practices, has lead to questions will life even be viable on a hot planet before the end of this century? EVERY practice around natural resources needs to be evaluated for impact. Trees are a part of our solution! Please protect. The profit today can not take a back seat to the costs tomorrow.

    Reply
  2. Laura Manz

    Trees……air…… Connected!!! Unless you folks at this alphabet agency have come up with a way for humans to exist without air, KEEP YOU HANDS OFF THE FORESTS! Pretty simple! Make the connection and stop cutting down the trees!

    Reply
  3. Please stop ruining our beautiful forests. We don’t need companies destroying our forests and then shipping it overseas. This is ignorance at the highest levels.

    Reply
  4. Lance Kammerud

    STOP CLEARING OUR FORESTS AND START PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT AND WILDLIFE

    Reply
  5. Paula Morgan

    Industry takes so much from this country yet does nothing to replenish. Climate change is here and the wood pellet industry wants to cut our forests to send to Europe. This is foolish. America has need of strong forests, wildlife, water, etc., which is tied directly to our forests. No industry should be capable of ruin. If we continue to allow this process we are killing our own country. The death of America for profit? We need life for every living being! We need to work along side o nature not the wood pellet industry. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Valerie F Mittl

    We just returned from a trip to Alabama and Mississippi and saw many logging trucks en route—it’s so sad to think that we are truly shipping our Southeastern forests to Europe via wood pellets……I live in North Carolina and am upset that my state as well is being slowly deforested….this has to end—we, indeed, need to rethink forest policy and the forest economy and focus on restoration instead of destruction.

    Reply
  7. Catherine Owen

    I urge the USDA to stop the sale of wood pellets to Europe. These wood pellet plants and the deforestation involved are a major contributor of damage to our climate. These practices (deforestation and wood pellet plants) are focused primarily in the poorest areas of the southern US, and therefore harm the most vulnerable of our citizenry. The people in those regions are NOT benefiting from the industry; quite the opposite.
    We must acknowledge and address the impacts of the forest industry on climate change.

    Reply
  8. Rev. Dr. Kenneth Alva Brown

    As a property owner in Pickens, SC and a former SC resident, I have grown to love the beautiful forests of the Piedmont, and Pickens-Oconee Mountains. They are a treasure we all must protect, preserve and prevent being further deforested for wood pellets to be exported to Europe!! I will correspond with Senators and Congresspersons to urge them to take acute action to stop the destruction. Thank you, and God help us!!

    Reply
  9. Sandy Brooks Carr

    The wood pellet industry loopholes needs to be closed. A city near me has a plant and I can assure you the economic needs of this community are not being served by it. Shipping our forests to Europe in the form of pettiest must end!

    Reply

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