Aerial photo of a forest with a large square area of trees having been taken down. The patch of land that remains is mainly dirt and shrubbery

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Set to Introduce Groundbreaking Legislation to Take on Global Deforestation and Environmental Crime

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) today announced the introduction of the FOREST Act, which would prohibit imports of agricultural commodities sourced from illegally deforested land. The law requires companies that import certain raw materials from regions with high rates of illegal deforestation to trace their supply chains back to the source and show the goods were produced in compliance with local laws.

EIA joined over 40 U.S. environmental, human rights, and anti-corruption organizations in signing an open letter calling on Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to swiftly enact the proposed legislation , which they consider “a critical step in tackling global deforestation and forest degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss, while promoting good governance and leveling the playing field for responsible businesses at home and abroad”.

The U.S. is an important market for imported commodities and associated products linked to deforestation, such as palm oil from South East Asia and cattle from Latin America. In Brazil, which exports beef and processed hides to the U.S., the vast majority of deforestation violates the country’s laws protecting the environment and indigenous rights.

EIA’s Executive Director, Alexander von Bismarck made the following statement:

“American consumers should not be the unwitting financiers of environmental crime and human rights abuses. Law abiding, responsible U.S. businesses shouldn’t have to compete with illegally produced goods in our market. This bill unites U.S. companies and consumers in the effort to help stop global forest loss and should be enacted as soon as possible.”

The FOREST Act is expected to be introduced in the House and Senate over the coming week. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Booker (D-NJ), Coons (D-DE), Heinrich (D-NM), Merkeley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Warren (D-MA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Nanette Barragan (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), and Steve Cohen (D-TN) in the House of Representatives.

The full text of the bill is available here. A one page summary is available here, and a section by section summary can be found here.

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