With President Joe Biden being sworn into office on January 20, 2021, federal government leadership is now set for the next two years with Democrats in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress (although by razor-thin margins).
Policies will be developed more fully during the coming months, but there are some indications of the types of challenges and opportunities Washington, D.C., will present to the hardwood industry in the near future.
The number one priority for the president and his team is clearly addressing the ongoing human and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus. The good news is that multiple vaccines have been developed and are being distributed, with more on the horizon. Implementing policies and strategies that increase the rate of inoculation for the entire U.S. population is top of the list. Coming in a close second is providing economic support to individuals and businesses that continue to struggle as significant portions of the economy remain shuttered.
Longer term, the Biden administration has made clear they will make climate change a centerpiece of their agenda throughout their time in office, incorporating climate considerations across government agencies and departments. This is a challenge certainly, but it is also an opportunity for the entire wood products industry, including hardwoods, to present ourselves as part of the solution to climate change concerns, with many tools at our disposal including sustainable management and harvest of forest lands, carbon neutral energy fuels, and carbon sequestering products. There are indications that the new administration is open to some of the solutions we have promoted over the years, including wood energy, wood product innovation, and green building. We certainly will be looking for opportunities to work closely with our forest products allies to further educate decision makers in the coming months.
The Hardwood Federation Board of Directors, including NWFA members Rick Holden, Don Finkell, Dan Natkin, and Barbara Titus, have tasked federation staff with identifying strategies to maximize our impact on Capitol Hill and within the administration. A task force has been named that will help develop these efforts. Priorities include developing documents that clearly and concisely communicate the benefits of the hardwood industry to both the economy and the environment, outreach and discussions with key lawmakers, proactively providing input to regulatory and legislative proposals related to carbon control, and providing industry members with the opportunity to engage.
The Hardwood Federation team will be engaged directly and track developments carefully on all fronts that have impacts on our businesses. We will not stray from our long-time policy positions that support the hardwood industry, including maintaining and increasing access to timber on federal (and private) lands, tax and regulatory policies that support, not harm, business operations, and fair trade agreements that open global markets to our products.
The policy positions were confirmed as important by a survey of the hardwood industry in January and presented to the Hardwood Federation and Hardwood Federation PAC Boards of Directors at their annual winter meeting in February.
The Hardwood Federation Boards are committed to maintaining a vigorous presence on Capitol Hill, even if it is on computer screens. We will look for ways to work with the new administration and Congressional leaders, but will not hesitate to challenge proposals that we believe will be harmful to the industry. Our elected officials will continue to hear from us about the value of our industry to the U.S. economy and why it is important they make the right decisions on proposals impacting our companies, and why the wrong decisions can devastate our industry.
The Hardwood Federation is very grateful for the tremendous support and engagement of the NWFA in federation activities at all levels. We very much look forward to working with your staff and entire membership to support a legislative agenda that recognizes the economic and environmental contributions of our hardwood products.
Dana Lee Cole is Executive Director at the Hardwood Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based hardwood industry trade association that represents thousands of hardwood businesses in every state in the United States and acts as the industry’s advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.