WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two representatives of Oregon’s #TimberUnity movement were at the White House Monday, where they had been invited to hear President Donald Trump deliver remarks on “America’s environmental leadership.”
The president had invited Todd Stoffel, of GT Stoffel Trucking, and Marie Bowers, of Bashaw Land & Seed, to represent Oregon’s trucking, logging and agricultural industries.
“It’s not very often that you get invited to the White House, especially as a rural Oregonian,” said Bowers. “Just the honor of that was pretty astounding.”
The president’s invitation came after the 2019 Oregon Legislative session, which brought thousands of rural Oregonians — along with their tractors and trucks — to the Capitol in Salem to protest controversial climate bills such as House Bill 2020, a bill to limit carbon emissions.
The group #TimberUnity, which Stoffel and Bowers represented at the White House Monday, started as a grassroots effort to fight HB 2020 and is now a registered political action committee devoted to standing up for loggers, ranchers, truckers and other working-class Oregonians.
“What an amazing opportunity. I was honored to represent #TimberUnity,” Stoffel told the Capital Press. “It was a whirlwind trip but well worth it. I really don’t know what else to say. Seeing our government in action was priceless.”
In his speech Monday, Trump focused on his administration’s environmental achievements. He said his priorities were promoting the “cleanest air,” “crystal clean” water, reducing carbon emissions and “being a good steward of public land.”
The president invited his various administration officials, including Environmental Protection Agency Chief Andrew Wheeler and Interior Department Chief David Barnhardt, to take turns at the lecturn.
Trump has raised the ire of environmental groups by rolling back more than 80 environmental regulations and withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate change accord.
In his speech, the president said he withdrew from the Paris agreement because it disadvantaged American workers and taxpayers.
“Punishing Americans is never the right way to protect the environment,” he said. “We will defend the environment, but we will also defend American prosperity.”
Trump also said that he does not support the “Green New Deal” Democrats in Congress are pushing for, which he claimed would cost the U.S. nearly $100 trillion.
“That’s not affordable even in the best of times,” he said.
Bowers, who helped lead the fight to kill HB 2020 in Oregon, said she agrees with the president. “My biggest takeaway from this weekend is that you shouldn’t ‘fix’ the environment at the cost of jobs,” she said. “The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”
Bowers said that she and Stoffel, along with the rest of the #TimberUnity movement leaders, are continuing to formulate what their movement means and what it will stand for moving forward.
“There are a lot of issues we could stand for that don’t get attention,” she said. “The main thing is that we’ll be advocating for natural resources and working people.”