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DelBene, Kilmer Bill to Improve Timber Innovation Passes House, Expected to Become Law

Today, Representatives Suzan DelBene and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) applauded the passage of important measures in the Timber Innovation Act (H.R. 1380) as part of the 2019 Farm Bill that passed the House of Representatives. DelBene and Kilmer introduced the bipartisan, bicameral legislation which would find new and innovative uses for wood as a building material. The Farm Bill is expected to be signed into law by the president.

Following the economic crisis of 2008, rural communities across Washington state saw major job losses throughout the timber industry. Since then, advances have been made showing that tall buildings can be built using cleaner and less expensive materials such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), a hybrid wood panel system that consists of lumber boards that are glued together, and which are stronger and more cost-effective. A greater investment in products like CLT could result in more economic opportunities for rural parts of Washington.

Components of the Timber Innovation Act in the Farm Bill include establishing a new performance driven research and development program advancing tall wood building construction. Also included are federal grants to support state, local, tribal, university and private sector education, outreach, and research and development to accelerate the use of wood in tall buildings. DelBene introduced the legislation to spur the use of tall wood building construction – those above 85 feet or seven stories – through the use of less expensive and cleaner materials like CLT, which will lower our carbon footprint and significantly aid forest health. 

“Washington’s First District is home to rural communities with economies dependent on forest products,” said DelBene. “Timber towns across our region have been in desperate need of new good-paying jobs, and the use of mass timber in tall wood buildings will help forge a path to newfound economic growth. By adding key provisions of the Timber Innovation Act into the Farm Bill, we are encouraging the use of innovative green building materials that will result in more jobs for hardworking local families, stronger local economies, and a healthier environment for the people of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties.” 

“Building with new wood technologies and wood that is sustainably harvested will lead to more jobs and mills on the Olympic Peninsula and taller, more earthquake-resistant buildings in Seattle,” Kilmer said. “That’s a vision that I call timber 2.0, which is a sustainable plan that will reinvigorate timber communities, lead to healthier, sustainably-managed forests and ultimately create more economic opportunities for more people in more places.” 

DelBene represents Washington’s first congressional district. She serves on the Ways and Means Committee and is Vice-Chair of the New Democrat Coalition. Kilmer represents Washington’s sixth congressional district and serves on the House Appropriations Committee.