Facebook Twitter

OREGON VOTES TO BAN EXPORT OF LOGS IN EFFORT TO BOOST JOBS AT LOCAL MILLS

SHARE OREGON VOTES TO BAN EXPORT OF LOGS IN EFFORT TO BOOST JOBS AT LOCAL MILLS

Oregonians have spoken out in support of local lumber mill workers, overwhelmingly approving a constitutional amendment banning exports of timber from state lands.

With half the vote counted in a statewide election Tuesday, the log export ban was passing by a 90 percent margin - even more than predicted in pre-election polls.Voters also passed a constitutional amendment that permits Oregon to continue receiving a share of money and property confiscated by federal agents from drug dealers. The money, an estimated $300,000 a year, will go for local law enforcement.

Ballot Measure No. 2, the log export ban, is designed to keep logs from Oregon state forests at home where they can be processed in local mills, creating local jobs.

The measure must be approved by Congress. The Supreme Court struck down a similar log export ban in Alaska in 1984, ruling that foreign trade can be regulated only by Congress.

"This is the biggest win in a contested election in Oregon history," said Pamala Reamer-Williams of Citizens to Save Oregon Jobs, a coalition of groups supporting the measure.

"We feel that Oregonians have spoken very loudly, and we just hope that Congress can hear us now," she said.

Sponsors of the measure, led by Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, were hoping for an overwhelming vote in support of the amendment. They believe the amendment will send a message to Washington about raw log exports.

The Bush Administration has proposed lifting a ban on the export of logs from federal forest lands to help ease the federal budget deficit. Exported logs generally bring a higher price than those sold to local mills.

Many mills in Oregon and Washington depend on federal timber and the U.S. Forest Service estimates that lifting the ban on federal log exports would cost 2,500 mill jobs.

Included in the Oregon amendment is a message to Congress, urging adoption of a law to permit states to mandate that local resources be used to support local employment.

Currently, about 40 percent of the logs from state lands are exported, primarily to Japan. But they account for only 9 percent of the total exports, with the rest coming from private land.

The state log exports also account for only 2.4 percent of the total timber harvest in the state.

Sponsors, including both timber companies and environmental groups, spent more than $1 million campaigning for the measure. Opponents, led by the Pacific Rim Trade Association, spent only a fraction of that amount.