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IN THE NEWS
Federal Aid for Oregon’s Timber Counties
In mid May, Oregon state senators unanimously passed a measure urging Congress to continue federal funding to timber counties.
“The federal government owes the state of Oregon,” said Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood, who carried the bill. “They have hurt our schools; they have hurt our local governments... our rural economy is falling apart.”
With about half of Oregon designated as federal land, the state receives the largest share of such funding. The payments were initially created in the 1990s as safety nets while restrictions to protect fish and wildlife diminished logging activity and county revenue.
Deadly Explosion at Gaston Mill
Last May, one man was killed and two others were injured in an explosion at Stimson Lumber in Gaston, Ore.
It appears the men were dismantling a hydraulic accumulator — a 6-foot pressurized steel pipe — and didn’t realize that it was still pressurized. The end of the pipe blew off and hit the men.
Steve Allen, 60, was rushed by a LifeFlight helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The loss has been felt throughout the community.
Seneca Co-Gen Plant in Operation
Seneca recently gave folks an inside look at its new co-gen plant that allows the facility to recycle biomass into reusable energy.
The energy produced is being sold to Eugene Water & Electric Board and is enough to power 13,000 local homes.
“Seneca has always been a leader in this industry,” said Ted Kulongoski, former Oregon governor. “[It] has embraced technology and change.”
The company’s state-of-the art technology not only turns the biomass into energy, but the steam it produces is being used to dry lumber.
Seneca is proud of the $45 million project, because it is both profitable and environmentally friendly. The company installed an electrostatic precipitator — which puts a charge on particles that makes them stick to a plate — to take as much soot out of the air as possible before it’s released. The technology can remove 99.9 percent of the particulate, according to the EPA.
The standard precipitator has two plates to collect soot, but the Seneca system will double that number to make the vented air cleaner still.
Seneca managers say the process makes use of a natural resource that will help the community meet its own energy needs far into the future.
USFS Breaches of Contract
Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager, reported that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims awarded $9 million for breach of contract to an Oregon national forest timber purchaser, Scott Timber (Roseburg Forest Products).
The court ruled that Scott Timber incurred expenses and lost profits on plywood and lumber sales, because the Forest Service breached three timber sale contracts that were suspended. USFS liabilities included unreasonably withholding litigation risk knowledge prior to award, unreasonable delays in litigation-caused surveys, and unreasonable delays in lifting suspensions.
Housing Recovery in 2014
The results of a housing market survey by Trulia Inc and RealtyTrac aren’t very rosy. Homeowners and renters don’t expect things to recover until 2014.
“Demand remains weak, loans are increasingly difficult to qualify for, and the shadow inventory of several million distressed properties is weighing down the market,” Rick Sharga, senior vice president at RealtyTrac in Irvine, California, said in a statement. “All of these things need to improve before housing can recover.”
The rebound will be a “long and gradual process,” said Pete Flint, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Trulia. “We have another 18 months until we start to see signs of price stability in the housing market,” he said in the statement.
Wood waste fuels debate
Oregon legislators are trying to determine if wood biomass should be exempted from regulations applied to solid waste.
Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, believes wood waste should be exempted and introduced House Bill 3687. The technology is generally considered a renewable source of energy since it is fueled by what would otherwise go unused and works within the existing carbon cycle of forests rather than burning fossil fuels that were removed from the cycle under the Earth’s surface, reported Jayme Fraser of The Oregonian.
“Treating biomass boilers as solid waste incinerators could result in closures of existing biomass facilities and slow the development of new ones,” Olson said, which he feared would cost Oregonians jobs and weaken the state’s push for renewable energy sources.
Others like Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, thought Olson’s bill could erode the state’s environmental regulations.
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