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.
On December 21, FRA Chairman Dick Carmical announced that the Association’s chief staff officer, President Richard Lewis, plans to retire during 2012. Carmical stated that he and FRA’s five elected Officers had established a goal of having a replacement hired by the time of the Association’s April 19-21, 2012 Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida and that this team was developing a process to identify possible candidates for the position.
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 the Forest Resources Association 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.
In order to insert trucking issues forcefully within the Surface Transportation Reauthorization process, the Agriculture and Forestry Transportation Reform Coalition (AgHaul) and the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) are working with the American Trucking Associations and other trucking interest groups to stage a massive “Stand Up For Trucking” event this coming January 31-February 1 in Washington, DC.
We were intrigued with a one-minute videoclip that FedEx commissioned, to draw attention to its commitment to environmental sustainability, and released through Youtube for viral dissemination. The animated clip begins with a pristine forest scene, populated by anthropomorphic trees and animals, as well as fairies, who sway to a nursery-tale rhythm, through which a stylized FedEx delivery truck and airplane float, to be nurtured on the limbs of a grandfatherly tree.
On November 21, Enviva LP announced that it had formed a partnership with ConocoPhillips to create a new company, ECo Biomass Technologies, to manufacture and bring to market torrefied wood pellets. Enviva, which already has a large presence in wood pellet production in the U.S. and Europe, notes that “although torrefaction is widely used in many industries, its adaptation to the renewable energy industry has yet to be proven cost-effective and scalable.”