News & Issues
The March 7 Wall Street Journal profiles some unexpected consequences of the world’s conversion to living on-line. The burst of demand for packaging materials, as a consequence of e-commerce, is a story that has been told before, but the Journal also notes that fine paper is also experiencing some sort of revival, at least in niche markets, as Americans are “buying more expensive stock for personalized holiday cards, announcements, and photobooks,” empowered by on-line vendors of the relevant technologies, such as Shutterfly, proposing a transformation of fine paper “from commodity to keepsake.”
FRA members will convene May 7-9 at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hilton, Virginia Beach, Virginia, for the Association’s 80th Annual Meeting. “One important focus of our meeting will be to explore and evaluate the challenge we face in rebuilding logging and trucking capacity,” stated FRA Chairman Tom Norris, noting that the Meeting program will reinforce the important steps FRA has already taken in “building the connection between operational realities on the ground and decisions coming out of Washington that can help or harm us.”
Following the Department of Transportation’s release of its proposed source materials and methodology for undertaking the Truck Size and Weight Study called for in the most recent Highway Bill, FRA President Deb Hawkinson entered a two-page Comment into DOT’s record.
On January 22, the Department of Agriculture published its “final rule” governing the “Paper and Paper-based Packaging Promotion” program, or “Paper Check-off,” establishing the program and assessing manufacturers or importers of qualifying paper and packaging products 35 cents per short ton, as of March 1, 2014, to fund marketing and promotion programs focusing on educating consumers on paper-based products’ sustainability.

The Pulp & Paperworkers’ Resource Council has launched its annual Fly-In to Capitol Hill, to talk to members of Congress and the Administration about policies that promote the success of the mills that keep them employed. This year, over 82 hourly forest products mill workers have come to town to work the Hill, February 11-13.

FRA’s work on truck weight reform, along the lines of the Safe & Efficient Transportation Act (or SETA, HR 612), progresses in alignment with two other processes:
On December 19, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2013 (S 1875), intended to minimize the distortions introduced into federal land management agency budgets due to the need for internal emergency allocations for wildfire suppression during disastrous fire seasons. The bill responds to the reality that wildfire suppression costs cannot realistically be budgeted within normal land management budgets.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® is seeking comments on its draft SFI 2015-2019 Standard, during the Standard development process’s second 60-day comment period, to conclude March 6. The draft Standard includes new performance measures to conserve biodiversity in fiber sourcing; to limit conversion from one type of forest to another; and to expand the definition of “controversial sources” excluded in SFI-labeled products.
Responding to a frequent complaint, on December 2, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration initiated a rule-making proposing to include “adjudication information” relevant to a commercial driver’s record in his or her Compliance – Safety – Accountability (CSA) roadside inspection record.

While federal law currently permits states to waive the driving skills test that qualifies a driver for a Commercial Drivers License for military personnel who have operated a similar vehicle during their service and who apply for the CDL within 90 days of discharge, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposes to extend that window to a full year and to consider administering CDL tests on military bases for active-duty service members.

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