News & Issues

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.

This spring, Caterpillar will cooperate with Greenville, North Carolina’s Pitt Community College and the North Carolina Association of Professional Loggers to launch a comprehensive 12-week training program for logging equipment operators, combining classroom work and practical operating experience in the field.  Caterpillar Forest Products is donating $1.25 million in equipment to the project, including a Cat 525C skidder, a Cat 573 wheel feller buncher, and a Cat 559 DS loader.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® is inviting applications for its Conservation and Community Partnerships Grants program.  The program, now in its third year, supports research and outreach on responsible forestry.  The 2012 Request for Proposals invites applications for projects that illustrate or inform the role of SFI in supporting water resources.  Proposed projects should illustrate the role of SFI Standard requirements in protecting water quality and quantity, such as effectively applying BMPs and demonstrating how the SFI standard supports their implementation.

On December 22, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released its revised Final Hours-Of-Service rule governing truck drivers, replacing the HOS rule it had promulgated in the middle of the past decade as a condition of avoiding litigation from a coalition of groups claiming to represent public safety and driver health. A few of the new rule’s provisions have a compliance date of February 27, 2012, but most of them will not be enforced until July 1, 2013.

The December 17 passage of the Omnibus Appropriations bill prevents the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing an onerous “Wage Rule” that would have established non-market wage guidelines for migrant guestworkers brought to the United States under the H-2B Visa Program. Because of a provision FRA and other members of the H-2B Workforce Coalition worked with Congress to include, DOL may not enforce, or implement, its new Wage Rule at least until October 1, 2012.

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