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Weekly News 11.19.12

Posted By John Dorka, Monday, November 19, 2012
Ohio Forestry Association

Weekly News 11.19.12
In this Issue:

  • Ohio Legislative News
    1. In the Senate - The Ohio Senate passed a bill (HB 365) unanimously to decrease the federal tax depreciation add-back for Ohio income tax purposes for companies that increase payroll by 10%. The measure is expected to be revenue-neutral because any foregone tax expected for the state is expected to be offset by increased payroll taxes and the benefits of increased economic activity. The bill will go directly to the governor for signature. The Senate also passed a resolution unanimously to recognize the importance of county fairs and urged continued state support for the events. Finally Senate President Niehaus is expected to have a call for official Senate leadership elections on November 28.
    2. Energy Efficiency Standards - FirstEnergy is asking Ohio lawmakers to freeze the energy efficiency standards at current levels. The current standards according to the most recent Energy Bill (SB 221, 127th General Assembly, 2008) are that Ohio’s benchmarks gradually increase through 2025 to 22% cumulative reduction below the baseline level established at the time of the bill. The current efficiency level after 4 years is 2.3% cumulative reduction. As it would be expected, environmental groups are strongly opposed to the idea. FirstEnergy maintains that as the standards become more aggressive, there will be considerable costs being added to all users’ electric bills. No measure has been suggested for legislation at this point. FirstEnergy is proposing discussions since so much has changed in energy markets and demand since the energy bill was passed going on five years ago.
  • Federal Congressional News
    1. HR 6439, Keep the Forest in the Family Act – Support is needed from OFA members in Cong. Tiberi’s District. The estate tax issue is one of a number of tax issues that Congress will be facing in the days ahead. Many of you know that currently (at least through December of this year), forest land owners enjoy a favorable estate tax formula (35% tax on estates valued over $5 million) that helps family forest owners to keep their woodlands in forest. However, the formula is set to expire at the end of the year, at which time, unless action is taken, estate taxes will revert to 2001 levels, which goes to 55% on estates valued at $1 million or more. The Keep the Forest in the Family Act (HR 6439) would change that. You can read the text of the legislation here, which is fairly short. Here is a list of the sponsors. Original bill sponsors are Cong. Diane Black (R-TN) and Cong. Mike Michaud (D-ME), and since introduction, another 19 Congressman have become co-sponsors. However, none of them are from Ohio. Cong. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) from the 12th District in central Ohio is Ohio’s lone representative on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which will first hear the bill. It would help to get Cong. Tiberi as a co-sponsor. OFA has weighed in with Cong. Tiberi, but it would help if any other OFA member in Cong. Tiberi’s district could do the same. You can do so by going to the American Tree Farm System website and submitting a letter on-line. You can very easily and simply fill in the on-line letter and submit as it is, or change to your needs if you wish to. This is an important issue for all of us in forestry.
    2. Congress May Act on "Forest Roads” Legislation – Help is Needed. The Forest Resource Association is reporting that it is hearing that Congress may take action on the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (S 1369, HR 2541) during the lame duck session, possibly in December. FRA is urging forest products industry people to contact their US Representatives and Senators to let them know how important this issue and legislation is to us. To assist with that, they have created an on-line letter to Congress. Just like the estate tax letter, you can fill in your name and contact information and send the letter already written or modify it if you wish. Here is a version of the letter OFA sent to Senators Portman and Brown and Representative Tiberi (Columbus). However, we elected to send the electronic version as those get to the respective offices much quicker than letters sent via hard mail. I suggest sending on-line versions if you can. Your letter will be directed to Ohio’s Senators and to your respective Congressman or Congresswoman.
    3. Is a Carbon Tax in the Offing? As Congress faces the budget challenges and looks at revenue and cost issues, re-working the tax code has become part of the discussion. An article from indicates that industry interests who have previously fought cap and trade legislation may now be talking about a carbon tax as a preferable alternative to additional regulation, particularly as efforts to simplify the tax code and increase revenues are getting more play.
    4. Credit Crisis Request for Letters from FRA. The Forest Resource Association (FRA) has identified the access to credit as a critical issue for the forest products industry, especially for logging contractors. Because of that, FRA will be working with the Credit Union National Association in late November on Capitol Hill to advocate for liberalizing the rules that currently limit credit unions to lend to small businesses. They will be advocating for The Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill (S 2231 and HR 1418). The bill would enable federal credit unions to increase the current 12.25% cap to 27% on total assets credit unions may lend to small businesses. Here is an FRA position paper on this issue. OFA sent a notice to our logging contactor and manufacturer members asking them to write a letter to their Congressman if they have experienced any issues with acquiring loans.
    5. USDOT to Audit CSA Effectiveness. Based on a request from Cong. Jimmy Duncan (R-Tennessee), Chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, the US Department of Transportation’s Inspector General has agreed to conduct an audit of the effectiveness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Program relating to commercial motor carriers. At a September hearing of the committee, a number of issues were raised about the lack of adequate safety data, inappropriate weighting of violations, and other scoring problems with the revised CSA program rules which are leading to inappropriately scoring performance among carriers.

  • Biomass Magazine Directory Available -Biomass Magazine announced that it has a new on-line directory available for those companies interested in connecting with the biomass industry. The 2013 Online Biomass Industry Directory is a comprehensive list of industry suppliers, producers, researchers, and government agencies. The list currently contains 450 biomass-related companies and is expected to continue growing as more companies are added. A printed version will be available as soon as it is printed and 5,000 copies will be distributed free to all current subscribers of Biomass Magazine.
  • National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Priorities to Include Logging Safety Actions - Two federal agencies (US Department of Health & Human Services and the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) announced in the federal register last week that it will hold a public meeting on January 31, 2013 to update its NORA priorities for a number of industry sectors including manufacturing and forestry. The Manufacturing Agenda includes worker exposure issues which could affect sawmills and wood manufacturing facilities. The Forestry Agenda includes logging safety issues. You can find the NORA relating to Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing here. The agenda is long, but you may want to focus on pages 51 through 59, which deal with Logging Safety and Forestry Health action goals. A quick read shows that statistics on logging and forestry accidents are not well reported and accumulated and many action items are focused on improving the reporting system. OFA will keep an eye on this to see what may come of the review.
  • Forest Carbon Credit Price Nearly Doubled in 2011 - In spite of uncertainties that have surrounded the carbon credit markets for some time, it appears that interest in forest carbon continues. According to an Ecosystem Marketplace survey and report, the price of a ton of carbon in 2011 went from $5.50/ton to $9.20/ton. The report indicates that there are 45 million acres of forest carbon projects in 40 countries so far. A couple years ago, the carbon credit market in the US took a hit when the Chicago Climate Exchange closed, and it appeared that the carbon market was heading nowhere. However, California continued with carbon market efforts and these along with other international actions have kept interest going. Here is an article from that talks about the survey results. Here is more on the other side of the issue. According to this article, the California Chamber of Commerce (CoC) is filing a lawsuit against California’s cap-and-trade program challenging its validity. The CoC believes that California does not have authority to take this action, especially selling permits to raise revenue for the state.
  • The Ethics of Forest Certification: When Unintended Consequences Result - Here is an editorial piece from the National Legal and Policy Center written about forest certification programs and the unintended consequences that can result from them, according to the author. In additional news on "green” building, Turner Construction, a leading general builder, released the Green Building Market Barometer, a biennial survey of companies involved in construction, design, architecture, development, etc. about their attitudes and commitment to "green” building. A total of 718 companies responded. A vast majority (90%) said they were very committed to green building; however a declining percentage (48% down from 53%) indicated a commitment to LEED. Citing increased costs and time, companies are less interested in LEED standards and are more knowledgeable about building sustainably. They don’t feel the need to use certification systems as a checklist. Click on the link to read the article.
  • Industry Reports- Here are links to a few reports that may be of interest to you:
    1. Update on the Housing Market (September information). This report is produced by Urs Buehlmann, Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products and Delton Alderman, USFS, Northern Research Station. It is a power point and has 38 slides.
    2. Update on Wood Markets by Don Deckard, Minnesota DNR, Division of Forestry. It is a very nice report with particular sections highlighted in yellow. It is focused on northern US wood markets but contains information of national interest.
    3. 2011 Census Shows Wood Heat Continues to Rise in the US. Gives good information on wood heat used by residential users in America. Households using heat as a primary source rose 1.72% in 2011, continuing a decade-long growth spurt. Data for Ohio, however, shows a decline.
    4. Forests of the Northern United States. Produced by the US Forest Service, this is a compilation of forest data on the 20 northern/northeastern states. Much information is shown by state and you can see how Ohio compares to the others.
  • CSAW Training in Northwest Ohio- On Friday and Saturday, November 9 and 10, OFA held two CSAW Level 1 chainsaw training classes at Maumee State Forest in northwest Ohio. The classes were arranged to encourage members of the newly formed Northwest Ohio Woodland Owners Association to get safety training. In addition, a number of employees from the tree care industry in that part of the state participated in the classes. A combined total of 24 attended the classes which were taught by CSAW instructor Brock Couture.
  • ECOFA December Newsletter- Here the December 2012 Newsletter for the East Central Ohio Forestry Association.

  • Upcoming Events
    • 2013 OFA Annual Meeting - March 6-7, 2013 - Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square, Columbus, Ohio.
    • Ohio Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp - Leesville Lake, Carrollton, Ohio. Please share the Camp dates and information with any friends or family that have high school age children. If you are interested in sponsoring a student, please contact Gayla at 888-388-7337 or Sponsorships are 100% tax deductible!

Ohio Forestry Association is managed by Offinger Management Company, a member of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), "Charter-Accredited" Association Management Company member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a member of the Association Management Company Institute (AMC Institute).

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