News & Issues

A House-Senate conference committee convened in early May to negotiate Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill and—to judge from statements from Senate Environment & Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer

On May 16, the U.S. Department of Labor published its official “guidance” on the H-2B guestworker program rule, affirming that—pending further action

On May 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a Notice of Intended Rulemaking to revise its current stormwater regulations “to specify that an NPDES permit is not required for stormwater discharges from logging roads” and setting forth the defining point that “logging roads are not stormwater discharges ‘associated with industrial activity.’”

On April 26, Judge M. Casey Rodgers, of the Northern District Court of Florida, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing its new H-2B Program Rule. This Rule, which governs employers’ treatment of foreign guestworkers regulated under the H-2B visa program, would have imposed new costs, minimum work guarantees, multiple itineraries, and worker housing inspection requirements to the extent of making the program unworkable for many industries, including reforestation.

We’ve been directed to a web resource that Sappi Fine Paper North America recently launched, branded as “eQ,” which provides, apparently on a quarterly basis, downloadable publications on various sustainability topics, designed with high production values.

RISI’s April International Woodfiber Report observes that the abundance of natural gas, and falling prices, has prompted many U.S. pulp and paper mills to launch processes to switch “to higher gas consumption, displacing substantial volumes of traditional in-woods biomass.” RISI quotes the phrase “permanent for the foreseeable future” with respect to this switchover and points out that it “could crush the largest existing biomass market in North America.”

On March 14, the U.S. Senate passed its version of surface transportation reauthorization, termed Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (“MAP-21”), on a substantially bipartisan vote of 74 to 22.

At a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on February 29, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) expressed to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar the growing opposition and dwindling support...

On March 1, the U.S. Green Building Council released the third draft of its “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” building standard, LEED 2012, which included a peculiar criterion for “responsible extraction of raw materials”

On February 2, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee amended and reported out its Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill, known formally as the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act (HR 7), striking out, by amendment, language which would have authorized states to have the right to opt in to a 97,000-pound / 6-axle configuration for conventional semi-trucks, the terms FRA and our allies in other organizations and coalitions had advocated.  The amendment to strike the provision authorizing truck weight (and truck size) flexibility, which T&I Chairman John Mica (R-Florida) had included in the Chairman’s Mark, substitutes a provision for a three-year study of the safety and road-and-bridge wear impacts of a variety of size and weight configurations, as well as any changes in patterns of freight hauling, which such changes might bring about.

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