FOE welcomes federal legislation to curtail global deforestation

Friends of the Earth welcomes bipartisan legislation to curtail global deforestation and environmental crime 

Introduction of the Federal FOREST Act is a critical contribution to curbing climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and violence against human rights defenders

WASHINGTON – This week Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mike Braun (R-IN) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) announced the introduction of the FOREST Act, an updated version of a bill first introduced in 2021. The legislation would prohibit imports of agricultural commodities produced on illegally deforested land and empower U.S. government agencies to support producing countries to tackle deforestation. It would also update the U.S. money laundering criminal statute to cover proceeds of environmental crime and require companies to know and show the origins of goods linked to regions at risk of deforestation to affirm compliance with local laws. 

Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager at Friends of the Earth U.S., issued the following statement: 

Agribusiness is destroying the world’s forests, driving rapid species extinction and contributing to climate breakdown. Behind the brand names selling products like meat, paper, chocolate, cosmetics and junk food is a world of forest crime built on illicit financial transactions and a global assault on frontline environmental human rights defenders.  

By banning U.S. imports of commodities tied to illegal forest destruction and strengthening the ability of U.S. law enforcement to prosecute deforestation-related crimes, the FOREST Act will serve as a critical tool to curb these abuses. Friends of the Earth is grateful for the leadership of Sens. Schatz and Braun and Reps. Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick, and we urge Congress to swiftly pass this critical bill.

With backing from a range of U.S. environmental, human rights, anti-corruption and faith-based civil society organizations, as well as responsible business interests, the FOREST Act follows recent action by the European Union to halt imports of products sourced from recently deforested land. The FOREST Act also parallels state-level efforts like the New York Tropical Deforestation-Free Procurement Act, which, if signed into law, would leverage New York’s public purchasing to curtail tropical forest destruction.  

 Communications contact: Brittany Miller, [email protected], (202) 222-0746

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