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Weekly News 1.4.12

Posted By John Dorka, Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly News 1.9.11

  • OFA was involved in several meetings last week and the following is a summary of those meetings:
    1. PUCO. A coalition of 4 associations which included OFA attended a meeting with PUCO staff to discuss the AEP rate issue which was recently passed by PUCO as part of the AEP Electric Security Plan. Initial information from rate analyses for several manufacturers shows that distribution rates for GS2/GS3 rate users may go up considerably with the new plan. OFA manufacturers under AEP distribution should look closely at their electric bills in January to see how they have been impacted. OFA will be working with the coalition to work with AEP to see about securing transition funding for manufacturers heavily impacted by increased distribution rates. A fund was created by AEP per the ESP plan to offer assistance to manufacturers who will be inequitably impacted by higher than expected rates. OFA Manufacturer members in the AEP distribution area should stay tuned for more information as we work through this process.
    2. ODNR Director James Zehringer. A small group of OFA members met with ODNR Director Zehringer and DOF Chief Bob Boyles in a "meet and greet” opportunity to introduce OFA to the new director and discuss policy issues. It was an excellent meeting and OFA had the opportunity to reinforce its position on a number of issues including state forest timber sales, the Master Logging Company Program, Timber Theft and Trespass, and forestry property tax programs.
    3. Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). OFA met with legislative staff from the OFBF to discuss common issues and concerns including truck regulations, CAUV and Ohio Forest Tax Law, Timber trespass and the federal Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (S 1369). Ohio Farm Bureau recently cooperated with the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the State Highway Patrol to put together a Farmer’s Guide to Truck and Farm Implement Laws and Regulations which is a handy pocket booklet that explains all state and federal laws pertaining to trucks and hauling. Although designed specifically for farmers, the guide could be very useful for forest product haulers. OFA is working with OFBF to get copies for OFA members.
    4. State Representative Terry Johnson (R-89). This past Saturday, several OFA members met with State Representative Terry Johnson for an afternoon in the woods to discuss state forest management issues. Based on a request through Board member Ryan Redoutey, OFA arranged a tour of Scioto Trail and Tar Hollow Forests. Steve Brown from Glatfelter and Pat Ruble from the Wildlife Management Institute also participated on the tour along with Ryan and John Dorka. The group visited the current Redoutey Logging Timber Sale in Back Hollow on Scioto Trail as well as several other areas on both forests. A host of forest management issues were discussed including the timber sale program, prescribed fires, the Shawnee Wilderness Area, and "Trees to Textbook” payments to schools for timber revenues. Rep. Johnson has Shawnee State Forest in his district and is addressing issues from constituents on management of the forest. It was an excellent tour that allowed OFA to share our thoughts and beliefs on how the state forest system should be managed. Rep. Johnson is interested in a follow-up meeting with OFA at Shawnee Forest to specifically discuss wilderness area management.

  • Karl Gebhardt Appointed Chief, ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation. Last week, Karl Gebhardt, former OFA interim Executive Director and OFA lobbyist, was appointed by ODNR Director James Zehringer as the Chief of the Division of Soil and Water Conservation. Most recently, Karl had started his own government relations and lobbying firm, Gebhardt and Associates, Inc.

  • Biomass Definition. Defining biomass has been a chronically contentious issue for a long time. Biomass as an alternative energy source has been a forefront issue for a number of years now. But as surprising as it might be, a generally accepted definition of biomass, especially as it relates to woody biomass, has been elusive. On the surface, it seems like it should be easy to say what a biological product is. But there are a huge number of issues and interested parties with different agenda that make it very difficult to come up with an accepted definition, especially one that will be included in law. Here is a link to an article in The Biomass Power and Thermal magazine that describes a definition that has been presented to Congress by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). A Biomass Definition Subcommittee from this group wrestled the issue and has proposed a definition. Take a look at the definition and see what you think. At first glance to me, it appears OK particularly as it applies to private lands. Personally, I cannot understand why there is a differentiation between biomass "from public land” and that from private lands. Biomass is biomass, regardless of who owns the land it grew on. But there you go. That’s one of those issues that have made defining biomass a tough nut to crack.

  • American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Fly-In. ATFS is planning a fly-in to Washington DC March 13-14 to give Tree Farmers the chance to talk with their respective Congressional representative about the Estate Tax. The current Estate Tax provisions are set to retire at the end of 2012 so it is especially important for Tree Farmers to let Congress know how the federal estate tax works against long-term management of private woodlands. Click here for more information on how to register for the fly-in and availability of scholarships for those interested in attending.
  • Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) News Update. Here is a press release from the USDA on the latest news on ALB eradication efforts in Clermont County. USDA has already started removal of infested trees and continues to monitor for newly infested trees with the area. The news release has a link to a map of the infested area for those interested in taking a closer look.

  • Tablet Computers Make a Run at the Lumber Business. Here is a link to an article in that describes an emerging trend about the use of tablet computers in the lumber business. Tablet sales have increased dramatically in the last year and are expected to continue increasing through 2015. The article is clearly directed at secondary manufacturing and retail, but it points out some interesting opportunities for point-of-sale applications.
  • Clifs Natural Resources Idles Biomass Plant. Here is a link to a Cleveland Plain Dealer article explaining that Clifs Natural Resources, a Cleveland-based company, is dropping a venture into alternative energy fuels and selling a plant in Marquette, MI that made biomass cubes. Clifs NR is in the process of selling the plant and as reported in the article, one of the markets appears to be Ohio utilities. A couple years ago when FirstEnergy was trying to convert the Burger Power Plant to a biomass fuel source, Clifs NR was actively working with FirstEnergy to be a potential fuel source for the plant.

  • OFA Annual Meeting, March 23-24, 2012, Crowne Plaza – Downtown Columbus, "Shale Formation Drilling – What is the Impact on Ohio Forestry?” Call the Crown Plaza at 800-593-5447 to make your hotel reservations at the special discounted OFA Annual Meeting rate of just $115 plus tax. Be sure to mention you are with OFA. This rate includes VALET parking (a $24 value)! And if you are just coming in for the day VALET parking at the hotel is just $5. Watch your mail for a brochure and registration information coming out soon or click here for a complete schedule of events. On-line registration will be available soon.

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