FRA

FRA

I hope by the time this writing makes print, you are all seeing the signs of a more prosperous and promising 2010.  We are now only about a month away from our Annual Meeting, which we’ll hold again this year in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I know the staff, as well as many of our committee leaders and members, have put significant time into making this a worthwhile session for all of our attendees, so I urge you to make every effort to be part of the gathering.

On July 29, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced the Commercial Truck Safety Act (S 1450), co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), which proposes a new remedy to the disjunction between state-approved truck weight tolerances and Interstate rules. Sen. Snowe’s bill proposes to give any state the right to petition the U.S. Department of Transportation to authorize a three-year “demonstration program” in that state that would enable a six-axle configuration weighing up to 100,000 pounds to access the Interstate system in that state.
The Wood Supply Research Institute has updated and revised Project information on its web site, to reflect its decision earlier this year to promote and release research results more extensively beyond its immediate membership.
The U.S. Forest Service has published a 14-page report, illustrated with photos, maps, and satellite imagery, demonstrating the effectiveness of a series of fuel treatment projects in protecting vulnerable communities threatened by this spring’s record-breaking Wallow Fire, which ultimately burned more than 733 square miles in Arizona and New Mexico.

By poplar request, and with WSRI Board approval, WSRI and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) have agreed to co-sponsor a new research project through Auburn University by Dr. Tom Gallagher and Dr. Mathew Smidt on “Factors Affecting Fuel Consumption and Harvesting Cost.” As fuel costs rise, this Project’s data will grow dramatically in value.

On June 26, a group of anti-truck pressure groups published a letter opposing the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (“SETA” - HR 763 / S 747), making unfounded allegations that SETA would compromise safety, damage roads, and increase truck traffic. The letter—signed not only by Public Citizen and other so-called “safety” groups and rail interests but also by several green group...
“Advancing the Obama Administration’s commitment to rapid and responsible development of large-scale renewable energy,” opens a July 14 news release from the Department of the Interior, “Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the approval of four new projects on public lands, the launch of environmental reviews on three others, and the next step in a comprehensive environmental analysis to identify ‘solar energy zones’ on public lands in six western states.”
The Department of Labor failed to meet its original April target for releasing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its proposed “Plan / Prevent / Protect” regulation, which would be a major overhaul of DOL enforcement under several agencies, touching on health and safety, mining, and construction, among others. The one we are most concerned about is the “Right To Know” initiative, which proposes the introduction of new enforcement tools for DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.

On July 12, AbitibiBowater announced that its Coosa Pines, Alabama pulp mill had signed a five-year contract with Alabama Power to provide the utility with 15 megawatts of generating capacity, as an element in its ongoing reconfiguration. In February, the mill stated that it would cease paper manufacturing, to concentrate on fluff pulp.

Several reports of serious injuries and fatalities associated with log trucking have come to our attention recently:

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