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IN THE NEWS
$136 Million in Renewable Energy Grants
In September, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five major agricultural research projects that would be aimed at developing regional renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Altogether, the five-year program will deliver more than $136 million in research and development grants to public and private sector partners in 22 states. Vilsack made the announcement with partners from private industry, research institutions, and the biofuels industry at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“We have an incredible opportunity to create thousands of new jobs and drive economic development in rural communities across America by continuing to build the framework for a competitively-priced, American-made biofuels industry,” said Vilsack. “Over the past two years, USDA has worked to help our nation develop a national biofuels economy that continues to help us out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world while moving our nation toward a clean energy economy.”
Two of the projects are based in the Northwest:
Oregon Asks Supreme Court to Take Runoff Case
Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager for the AOL reported that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced that the State of Oregon will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a flawed 2010 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had declared that forestry water runoff must be treated the same as factory and sewer runoff.
Northwest Environmental Defense Center had sued to seek federal water runoff regulation of forest roads. Kitzhaber said Oregon is “at a point in the history of our management of forest lands where we need to develop stability…not management by lawsuit.”
Vilsack Urges U.S. Builders to Prioritize Wood in Green Buildings
“This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years,” said Vilsack. “Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America.”
The Forest Service report also points out that greater use of life cycle analysis in building codes and standards would benefit the environment. A combination of scientific advancement in the areas of life cycle analysis and the development of new technologies for improved and extended wood utilization are needed to continue to advance wood as a green construction material. Sustainability of forest products can be verified using any credible third-party rating system, such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council, or American Tree Farm System certification.
“The argument that somehow non-wood construction materials are ultimately better for carbon emissions than wood products is not supported by our research,” said David Cleaves, the U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Advisor. “Trees removed in an environmentally responsible way allow forests to continue to sequester carbon through new forest growth. Wood products continue to benefit the environment by storing carbon long after the building has been constructed.”
Judge Recommends Vacating Oregon Logging Plan
The Oregon timber industry took a hit in September when. U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hubel recommended that the Bush administration plan to double logging on some federal lands in western Oregon should be vacated.
Hubel stated that the BLM had failed to properly consult federal biologists over the potential harm to endangered species before adopting the Western Oregon Plan Revision, known as the WOPR.
If a federal judge approves Hubel’s recommendations, the Bush-era plan will be replaced by the Northwest Forest Plan, which was adopted in 1994.
Warrenton Hampton Mill Reopens
In August, Hampton Affiliates reopened its Warrenton sawmill, after closing and upgrading the mill it purchased in January 2010 from the Weyerhaeuser Co.
Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager for ALC, reported that, “Hampton invested millions to make the mill competitive and produce a variety of dry or green fir and hemlock dimensional lumber for export and domestic markets. The mill opened with a single 100-employee shift and intends to add a 2nd shift when domestic markets improve. Portland-based Hampton employs 1,600 in Oregon, Washington, and BC, with nine sawmills and 93,000 acres of forests.
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