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DeFazio Introduces 'Act for the Amazon Act'

Sep 10, 2019
Press Release
Legislation Bans Key Imports and Halts Military and Security Assistance to Brazil Until Action is Taken to Combat Rainforest Wildfires

Washington, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) introduced legislation today to put pressure on Brazil to combat the record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest.

“President Jair Bolsonaro believes he can act with impunity and accelerate the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and he needs to know there are real-life consequences for his reckless actions,” said DeFazio. “I’m angered, but not surprised, that President Trump wholeheartedly supports Bolsonaro’s game of chicken with humanity’s existence. Though thousands of miles away from Oregon, the Amazon serves as the lungs of the earth. Without significant intervention to curtail destruction of the rainforest, it will impact rainfall in the United States, dramatically reduce our crop yields and food supply, and increase the extreme conditions for catastrophic wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.”

DeFazio’s legislation, HR 4263, the Act for the Amazon Act, (which can be found here), will put strategic initiatives in place to pressure President Bolsonaro to act on an aggressive plan to fight the Amazon wildfires and reduce deforestation used by the farming and mining industries, including:

  • Banning targeted imports from Brazil, including beef, soybeans, and other commodities contributing to deforestation;
  • Freezing targeted aid funding to Brazil;
  • Prohibiting the Trump administration from negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Brazil.

"As long as we purchase commodities from a burning Amazon, we are complicit in the rainforest's destruction,” said Andrew Miller, advocacy director of Amazon Watch. “Not only must the Brazilian authorities stop the fires, but also the spiking deforestation and imminent threats to indigenous territories. Brazil's indigenous movement has called for a boycott of products like beef and soy that are catalyzing land invasions and deadly conflicts within their territories. By supporting the Act on the Amazon Act, U.S. voters can stand in solidarity with the urgent indigenous plea to protect the Amazon."

Jake Schmidt, Managing Director of the International Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council said, "We need to protect forests in order to address the climate crisis, but President Bolsonaro’s policies are feeding the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon. This measure will help deliver the message that Brazil must change course and combat these reckless fires.”

Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Director at Friends of the Earth U.S. said, “Representative DeFazio’s Act for the Amazon sends a clear message – if we want Brazil to stop burning down its rainforest to produce beef, soy and other commodities, then global markets need to stop buying those products.”

"The Amazon fire crisis represents a planetary emergency that ultimately affects us all and the time for action is now," said Ginger Cassady, Program Director with Rainforest Action Network. "Global corporations driving this destruction need to be held accountable and this legislation is exactly the kind of support the world needs to be offering the Indigenous people of Brazil, who are facing horrific treatment and displacement from their traditional territories as a result of this human caused disaster." 

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has recorded roughly 40,000 forest fires this year alone in the world’s largest rain forest, a 77 percent increase from 2018. The Amazon rainforest contains upwards of 100 billion metric tons of sequestered carbon, helping to stabilize our planet’s climate. Continued deforestation would release significant amounts of this carbon, resulting in catastrophic damage to the U.S. and the globe.