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Timber Talk 12/7/15

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, December 8, 2015

OFA Credential for FFA Forestry Students Moving Ahead

Last week, OFA met with Kevin Williams, Education Program Specialist in Technical Education with the Department of Education, to further discuss the initiative to create an OFA Credentialed Forestry Curriculum in Ohio FFA programs. Through this program, high school students in participating FFA programs around Ohio could receive a completion certificate for the Forestry Program if they meet prescribed education and work standards agreed upon through OFA. Standards would include taking specific forestry and forest product courses, attending the OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, successfully completing of Master Logger training courses, and working a minimum of 100 hours in an approved forest products manufacturing facility or through other assigned forestry work. The program still must be approved by the OFA Board, but it is hoped that such a program will provide opportunities for high school students to gain valuable work skills that will enable them to find jobs with future forestry employers following high school graduation.

Jeremy Scherf Named U.S. Regional Tree Farm Inspector of the Year

It was announced last week that Jeremy Scherf, ODNR Division of Forestry Service Forestry in east central Ohio, was chosen as the U.S North Central Region Outstanding Tree Farm Inspector of the Year by the American Tree Farm System. Jeremy will be recognized for this accomplishment at ATFS National Leadership Conference in Seattle, Washington in February 2016. Jeremy is an active member of OFA who volunteers for numerous events and activities and currently is the co-chairman of the OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp Committee, overseeing all camp activities. Jeremy is also very active with the East Central Ohio Forestry Association and is currently the Chairman of the Ohio Society of American Foresters professional society. Congratulations for Jeremy for his well-deserved recognition.

U.S. EPA Unveils Final Renewable Fuel Standards

Last week, the U.S. EPA announced its final rules for Renewable Fuel Standards. Of particular note, the biodiesel fuel volumes were raised beyond those of the initial proposal from earlier in the year. The final rule calls for 1.8 billion gallons more of total biodiesel for 2016 than for the 2014 levels, an increase of 11%. The final rule for 2016 calls for nearly 200 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, which is 7 times more than what the market produced in 2014. In addition, the standards call for nearly 1 billion gallons of advanced biofuel in 2016, a 35% increase compared to 2014. The announcement of the standards drew mixed comments from affected parties. Some particularly critical comments were directed at EPA and how it is managing a "dysfunctional program” since it is only now establishing renewable fuel standards for 2014 and 2015 in an after-the-fact manner. Even more, the 2016 standards are almost too late to respond to from an industry perspective.

Forest Products Industry at UN Climate Change Conference

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) was at the Climate Change Conference although it did not formally participate in the conference. The purpose of its attendance was to encourage governments to recognize sustainable forest management and reforestation for their positive contributions to climate conditions , the carbon neutrality of biomass harvested from forests, as well as the positive actions by the industry already with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a brochure that briefly summarizes the council’s position. To this end, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) is also trying to rally support for the part forests and forest products can play in sequestering carbon. AFF is promoting a State Government Toolkit which outlines a policy agenda for states to consider if and when each develops a response to the carbon issues. Although it is generally recognized that forests, forest management, and forest products and play significant roles in carbon sequestration, it appears that biomass from forest management continues not to be recognized by the US EPA as a carbon neutral product, while the EPA has already discounted the use of "traditional” carbon offsets for any climate action strategies.

FirstEnergy Files Settlement with PUCO on Purchased Power Agreement

In ending a case that started almost a year and a half ago, FirstEnergy filed a settlement agreement with PUCO to help it move to Purchased Power while dealing with the closure of a number of coal burning power plants. The agreement will:

  • Set a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across the company's operations in six states by at least 90% of 2005 levels by 2045 - a reduction of more than 80 million tons of emissions;
  • Provide $102 million to aid low-income customers will bill payment and energy efficiency programs;
  • Preserve $1 billion in annual statewide economic benefits and an estimated 3,000 direct and indirect jobs at the Davis-Besse and W.H. Sammis plants;
  • Require PUCO to approve a request to file for a base distribution rate increase during the plan.
  • Require FirstEnergy to file a report by Nov. 1, 2016, as part of the Resource Diversification Program, including energy efficiency programs and renewable energy resources.
  • Commit FirstEnergy to evaluate future initiatives for smart meter/smart grid technologies across FirstEnergy's service area.

The agreement was signed off by a number of large customers and other public agencies. However several interest groups were opposed to the agreement and believe that it will increase rates for up to 2 million consumers. Opposition is coming from the Ohio Sierra Club, Ohio Consumer’s Council, and AARP. PUCO still has to formally approve the plan and is expected to do so.

2016 OFA Annual Meeting, March 9-10, 2016, Dublin Embassy Suites; "Ohio Hardwoods – Changes and Challenges”

Details and registration information coming soon.

Nominations are currently being accepted for industry awards. Click here for details and the nomination form.

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