News & Issues

Forest Service Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research announced the results of a study it had undertaken highlighting the role reforestation plays in reducing flooding and the volume of farmland-derived sediments in waterways of the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley.

On August 21, West Virginia Trucking Association President Jan Vineyard told the West Virginia legislature’s Select Committee on Infrastructure that WVTA supported the terms of the Safe & Efficient Transportation Act (HR 612)—authorizing a state option to permit 97,000-pound, six-axle trucks on Interstate highways within a state’s borders—and urged the Committee, as well as West Virginia’s Division of Highways, to endorse SETA. Although DOH’s chief staff engineer stated that the agency wanted to learn more about the possible impacts of SETA on the state’s bridges before venturing an endorsement, he seemed open to pursuing the question, and the Committee appointed a subcommittee to draw up a report on SETA’s potential effects.

Dovetail Partners, a leader in public education about sustainable forestry, has created a web feature called Forest Fast Breaks—presenting concise, engaging animated shorts that simplify complex forestry topics. The videos highlight forest ecology, sustainable forest management practices, and the environmental benefits of utilizing wood in consumer products and as a building material.

FRA and other members of the H-2B Workforce Coalition are following up on our win, this April, in defending last year’s preliminary injunction blocking the federal Department of Labor’s 2012 H-2B Guestworker “Program Rule,” which would have made the H-2B program unworkable. This “Program Rule” governs the logistics of the H-2B guestworker program, which covers foreign guestworkers employed in the handplanting of tree seedlings. The Coalition is now filing a motion with the same 11th Circuit Court (in Florida) to convert that Court’s previous “preliminary injunction” into a “permanent injunction.”

In one of the more dramatic discrepancies in interpreting data we’re aware of, the American Transportation Research Institute—the American Trucking Associations’ research arm—disputed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s estimate of the financial “benefits” the new Hours of Service Rule would provide to the trucking sector. According to FMCSA’s projection, the new HOS rule’s disputed “restart” provision—which establishes new off-duty requirements between drivers’ work periods—will save the U.S. trucking sector $133 million a year, apparently in drivers’ health and public safety benefits. ATRI, finding FMCSA’s sampling methodology and assumptions seriously flawed, concludes, on the contrary, that the “restart” provision will cost the sector $189 million annually.

On June 25, President Obama released the 21-page President’s Climate Action Plan, an outline of priorities and policy initiatives addressing the threat of climate change. The Plan stresses three courses of action:

On June 27, the Senate passed its comprehensive Immigration Bill (S 744)—unfortunately including the terms of Senator Merkley’s (D-Oregon) amendment, placing unworkable stipulations on reforestation contractors seeking to obtain visas for H-2B guestworkers. Attention now shifts to the House, which has indicated that it will probably pass a series of bills, rather than a comprehensive bill, to address such controversial issues such as amnesty, treatment of minor-age aliens, securing the border, a path forward to citizenship—and reform of guestworker programs, including the H-2B program that regulates guestworkers employed by reforestation contractors.

On March 6, a broad group of collaborators, significantly drawn from leaders of the 25x’25 Bio-Energy Coalition but including representatives of several other organizations, formally announced creation of a project called Solutions from the Land and released its 45-page Pathways Report. This Report...

The H-2B Workforce Coalition, in the governance of which FRA participates, recently finalized and published Principles for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, presenting background on...

On February 14, Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) reintroduced the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Creation Act (HR 688), which would liberalize federal rules that currently restrict credit unions from allocating more than 12.25% of their assets to small business borrowers. The legislation would increase that lending cap to 27.5% for credit unions that meet stipulated requirements. The bill already has strong (and growing) cosponsorship, and although support is more bipartisan than it was last year, Democratic cosponsors currently outnumber Republicans by a ratio of about 1 to 4.

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