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U.S. Lumber Company Execs Appeal to Congress to Block Distribution of Collected Duties
Washington, DC, USA, 13 September 2006 -- /PRNewswire/ -- Lumber manufacturers representing firms with operations in more than 16 states are in Washington, D.C., today to appeal to members of Congress to intervene in the Administration's plans to provide preferential financial benefits of USD 500 million to a small portion of the U.S. industry. This cash in the hands of a few selected companies will destabilize the domestic lumber industry and circumvents the Congress through an off-budget escrow account.

"We have more than 30 companies that are petitioning the government to abandon its plan to refund duties collected on softwood lumber imports into an off-budget U.S. escrow account to be given to the U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports," said David Slaughter, spokesperson for Lumber Manufacturers for Ethics and Equality (LMEE). "This is wrong, creative accounting and mis- handling of Treasury funds, with no budget oversight from Congress."

Slaughter said that the LMEE is investigating possible legal action to block the total USD 500 million from being distributed or used without Congressional action and oversight. He said that, if the money can be legally handed back by Canada, it should be kept in the Treasury and used for construction of affordable homes throughout the country.

Canada and the United States have been in a decades-long dispute over softwood lumber imports. This summer, negotiators for the two countries reached an agreement that is designed to end the dispute for up to nine years. Part of the deal, however, hands back to the U.S. lumber companies that brought the trade actions against Canada one-half billion of the five billion in duties collected since 2001.

"Giving the petitioners this money will allow them to undercut other competitor lumber companies and even buy out smaller companies, cutting jobs and raising home costs," Slaughter said. "It also appears to circumvent a U.S. Court of International Trade ruling that giving money to trade case petitioners under the Byrd Amendment would be a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Administration wants to give cash to a select group of U.S. companies, harming their competitors."

Slaughter also said that USTR failed to follow U.S. law requiring it to consider the public interest, and to consult with potentially affected domestic producers and workers. No effort was taken to communicate with or involve nonpetitioner companies over the past five years.

Lumber Manufacturers for Ethics and Equity members companies who are petitioning to have the decision to funnel cash to some domestic producers blocked include:

Amelia Lumber Co, Amelia, Virginia
A.V. Littrell Lumber Mill, Tishomingo, Mississippi
Ayres & Baker Pole & Post Inc., Mountain View, Wyoming
Bean Lumber Co, Inc., Glenwood, Arkansas
Brittain Lumber Company, Statesville, North Carolina
Busy B Cedar Inc., Priest River, Idaho
Caffall Brothers Forest Products, Portland, Oregon
Cedar Creek Horselogging & Milling Inc., Nevada City, California
Cold Stream Lumber Co., West Enfield, Maine
Dejarnette Lumber Company, Milford, Virginia
J.D. Lumber Inc., Priest River, Idaho
Lamell Lumber Corp, Essex Junction, Vermont
Lampe & Malphrus Co., Smithfield, North Carolina
Lewis County Forest Products, Winlock, Washington
Littrell Lumber Mill, Decatur, Alabama
Mason County Forest Products, Shelton, Washington
North End Timber Products, Olney, Montana
Oakville Forest Products, Oakville, Washington
Patenaude Lumber Co. Inc., Henniker, New Hampshire
Ponderay Valley Fibre, Usk, Washington
Portac, Inc., Tacoma, Washington
Precision Pine & Timber Inc., Heber, Arizona
Pukall Lumber Co., Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin
Rosboro Lumber Co., Springfield, Oregon
RSG Forest Products, Kalama, Washington
Tricon Timber LLC, St. Regis, Montana
Trinity River Lumber Co., Weaverville, California
Troy Lumber Co., Troy, North Carolina
Sauvola's Sawmill, Northport, Washington
Stoddard Lumber Co. Inc., St. Anthony, Idaho
Zosel Lumber Co., Oroville, Washington

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