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Oct 18 -- Pursuant to an Executive Order on Strengthening the Nation's Forests, Communities, and Local Economies, the Department of State is seeking public feedback on options, including recommendations for proposed legislation, for a whole-of-government approach to combating international deforestation that includes: an analysis of the feasibility of limiting or removing specific commodities grown on lands deforested either illegally, or legally or illegally after December 31, 2020, from agricultural supply chains; and an analysis of the potential for public-private partnerships with major agricultural commodity buyers, traders, financial institutions, and other actors to voluntarily reduce or eliminate the purchase of such commodities and incentivize sourcing of sustainably produced agricultural commodities. Comments must be received on or before December 2, 2022. Early submissions are appreciated.

Under this Executive Order, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Homeland Security (through the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection), the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Trade Representative, and the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, will submit a report to the President within one year on the above topic.

The Executive Order also references the Biden Administration's commitment to deliver, by 2030, on collective global goals to end natural forest loss and to restore at least an additional 200 million hectares of forests and other ecosystems, while showcasing new economic models that reflect the services provided by critical ecosystems around the world, as described in the Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks.

The plan recognizes that conserving and restoring global forest and peatland ecosystems, particularly in the Amazon, Congo Basin, and Southeast Asia, can provide significant global greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, both by preventing the emissions caused by deforestation and by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere and stored in soils and forest biomass. The Administration is also committed to combating illegal logging and stopping trade in illegally sourced wood products including through the Lacey Act, and to addressing the related importation of commodities sourced from recently deforested land.

In addition to any general input, the Department is interested in responses to the questions posed below. The Department may use this information to inform potential future actions including, but not limited to, preparation of a report to the President addressing the above topics. The Department welcomes any relevant comments, including on related topics that may not be specifically mentioned but that a commenter believes should be considered.
 
The Department is interested in any information respondents believe would be useful in preparing a report to the President corresponding to E.O. paragraph 3.b evaluating options, including recommendations for proposed legislation, for a whole-of-government approach to combating international deforestation. In addition to general comments, the Department is interested in respondents' answers to any or all of the questions listed below. Please fully explain your answers and include additional reasoning, context, and other information as appropriate.

Approach To Identifying Deforested Lands

1. Should the United States government apply tools within its authorities to limit or remove specific commodities grown on illegally deforested lands from agricultural supply chains? What are the potential benefits or negative effects of this approach?

2. Should the United States government apply tools within its authorities to limit or remove specific commodities grown on lands deforested, legally or illegally, after a specific cut-off date (for example December 31, 2020) from agricultural supply chains? What are the potential benefits or negative effects of this approach? . . . [34 questions in total]
  
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-22541

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