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Weekly News 5.28.12

Posted By John Dorka, Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weekly News 5.28.12

  • OFA Asks Senator Balderson to Sponsor Ohio Forest Products Awareness Week Legislation. I met with Senator Balderson, (District 20 – Zanesville) last week to discuss his sponsoring legislation recognizing Ohio’s forest products through a designated awareness week in October of each year. The recognition would coincide with the Paul Bunyan Show during the first week of October. Senator Balderson advised he was willing to do so, but that legislation could be started at the earliest in a shortened fall session.

  • Master Logging Company Program Reciprocity with West Virginia. Last week, I meet with West Virginia State Forester Randy Dye and his staff and Ohio State Forester Bob Boyles to review the reciprocity agreement between Ohio and West Virginia on the Master Logging Company Program. Following a few questions that had come up with the administration of the agreement, we met in Charleston to go over the questions and talk about the programs in general. Following discussion, all parties agreed to re-affirm the agreement and maintain the program to recognize Master Logging Training and approaches in both states.

  • Visit with S&J Lumber. On the return trip from Charleston, I had the chance to visit Alan Smith from S&J Lumber near Rio Grande. Many thanks to Alan and his father for the tour of the mill and discussion on the state of the industry.

  • Ohio Legislature Passes Energy Bill. The Ohio House and Senate finally agreed on an Energy Bill (SB 315) that was written to address many regulatory issues with the expanding shale drilling industry in Ohio. Many of the provisions have been controversial, for example the issue concerning non-disclosure of proprietary information on the contents of fracking solutions caused heavy debate in both chambers of the legislature. There was a broad array of regulatory and permitting issues that affect the entire drilling process. The bill gave approval to industrial cogeneration (combined heat and power) systems as being eligible for renewable energy credits under Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standards. The definition of biomass was not altered in the law.

  •  Workers Comp News. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors approved the extension of current premium rates for private employers through the 2013 Policy Year. This action follows last year’s 4% reduction in rates.

  • Congress Asks GSA to Stop Using LEED/Encourages LEED to Accept Other Green Certification Programs. On May 18th, more than 50 members from Congress US General Services Administration (GSA) signed a letter (attached) raising concern about the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) 2012 Standards and with the ultimate adoption of the standards by GSA. The letter indicates that the members have particular concern that the new standards will lead to significant job losses and increased building costs at a time when our economy can least afford it. The letter particularly notes that the proposed LEED standards has a particular anti-chemical use bias which will eliminate hundreds of products made in this country. Interestingly, 7 of the 50 members of Congress to sign the letter are from Ohio: Cong. Bob Latta (OH-5), Bill Johnson (OH-6), Steve Latourette (OH-14), Steve Stivers (OH-15), Jim Renacci (OH-16), Tim Ryan (OH-17), and Bob Gibbs (OH-18). Ohio is a state that with many plastic and chemical manufacturers. We also know that LEED discriminates against wood and only accepts wood with FSC certification. In another group letter, 8 members of Congress urged USGBC to accept all other credible, third-party verified certification systems for forests and wood beyond just FSC certification in the proposed 2012 standards.

  • Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) Update. It appears that a Highway Reauthorization Bill is working its way slowly through the House-Senate Conference Committee. Although CTP had attempted to get Vehicle Weight Reform included in the Highway Reauthorization Bill, the best that was accomplished was to get the Senate to agree to a 2-year truck weight study. However, there is discussion through the Federal Highway Administration that the study could cost upwards of $100 million. CTP believes a 2-year study costing this amount of money is a terrible waste of taxpayer money. Instead, CTP is pushing for a much less expensive 1-year study that will make use of the large amount of research already completed on this issue. CTP is also indicating that the fight for weigh reform will take much more time and effort than first thought. CTP is putting together a 3-year strategic plan and will be looking for financial support across the board to fund the fight.

  • US EPA Announces Intent NOT to Require Stormwater Permits on Logging Roads. This past week, the US EPA filed a Notice of Intent to revise stormwater regulations to specify that NPDES Permits are not required for stormwater discharges from logging roads. At the same time, EPA will be seeking feedback on approaches to address water quality impacts from logging roads. This sounds like it may be one of those good and bad scenarios. Good that permits won’t be required, but bad in that EPA may be working on stronger BMP requirements. Here is a news release from the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) that gives more detail on what EPA is doing and pointing out that in spite of no plans for NPDES permits, EPA may come back with other regulatory approaches. We still need to see if the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal of the Ninth Circuit Court ruling this summer. In addition, the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (HR 2541/S 1369) still should be passed to guarantee EPA actions. There is something odd about how the US Solicitor General ruled that the EPA should not issue stormwater permits for logging roads, yet will not argue against the Ninth Circuit Court ruling in front of the Supreme Court.

  • Tree Farm System Letter on Fixing Estate Taxes to Help Forest Landowners. You can read the attached letter from the American Tree Farm System which talks about the importance of Congress acting to maintain the estate tax exemption at above $5 million which protects most family forest owners. This exemption is set to expire at the end of the year. In addition, there is another part of the exemption law that needs to be revised. Currently, a forest landowner can elect to value his or her property at the current use value rather than market value for estate tax purposes. However, the exemption penalizes a landowner who harvests timber if the timber is included in the current use valuation. The American Tree Farm System is encouraging forest landowners to contact their Congressional representative to urge them fix the provisions in law. The attached letter points out the work that Cassie Ridenour, OFA Board member and Ohio Tree Farmer, did this past spring with the Tree Farm System "Fly-In” to Washington DC to meet with the Ohio delegation on these concerns. You can visit the website to learn more about the issue and find out what you can do to help.

  • Timber Market Seminars. These seminars sound like good ones, but they are not close ( Portland, OR) and are expensive. However, they may be of interest to some members. The World Forest Center in Portland, Oregon is hosting two seminars in September,2012 put on by Forest Economic Advisors, LLC: The Forest Products Forum and Who Will Own the Forest? Forum. The Forest Products Forum will look at North American markets for housing, lumber, wood panels, timber, engineered lumber, and woody biomass. The Who Will Own the Forest? Forum will look at opportunities and challenges to investing in US and overseas forestlands.

  • Carbon Life Cycle Analysis of Wood Pellets. Here is a very short summary article on the carbon footprint of wood pellets. In short, heating with wood pellets can produce one tenth the carbon as heating with oil and one sixth the carbon of heating with natural gas.

  • SOFA June Newsletter. Attached is the June Newsletter from the Southern Ohio Forestland Association. The newsletter contains information on the May 10 meeting with a presentation from Chris Smith who is working on the Ohio Forest Inventory. Chris emphasized that Ohio’s forests are maturing with declining early successional forests. The newsletter also contains information from the American Forest Foundation encouraging forest landowners to support the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012, odd areas for wildlife management, invasive species, and Ohio’s rising deer tick population. Many thanks to SOFA from OFA for their generous support of the Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp for high school students. SOFA is making $877 available for camp scholarships to students for this year’s camp.

  • Former OFA Board Presidents Re-appointed to Forestry Advisory Council (FAC). The Gongwer Statehouse news service reported that Walt Lange of Swanton ( Fulton County) and Mel Yoder of Sugarcreek ( Holmes County) have been re-appointed by Governor Kasich to serve on the Forestry Advisory Council, the legislatively established advisory board to the Ohio Division of Forestry. Walt serves as a representative of the Small Private Forestland owner category and Mel serves as the representative for the Forest Industries category. Walt was OFA President in 2009 and Mel served twice as the OFA President, in 1991 and 2001. The FAC term for both will run through the end of February, 2016.

  • Upcoming Events: (see OFA website for more information)
    1. Lumber Grading Short Course, June 4-7, 2012, Yoder Lumber Co. Buckhorn Mill – class full, registration closed.
    2. OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 10-15, 2012, FFA Camp Muskingum – registration still          being accepted
    3. OWIN Summer Meeting, July 25-26, 2012, Marietta – registration information forthcoming, sponsorships welcome anytime
    4. Lumbermen’s Outing, September 5, 2012, The Pines Golf Course, Orrville and the Lost Bird Sporting Clays, Fredericksburg; Benefit for Lumbermen’s Benevolent Fund with Charm Share ‘N Care – registration information forthcoming, sponsorships welcome anytime. 

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