Archive for the ‘Business Impact’ Category

As We See It: It Just Makes Sense

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

September 2014

ALC Exec VP Danny DructorBy Danny Dructor, ALC Executive Vice-President

For seventeen years, members of the American Loggers Council have been making trips to Washington, DC, promoting the idea that trucks hauling state legal weight limits for agricultural commodities, including unrefined forest products, should be allowed to access the Federal Interstate Highway System, and for seventeen years, this common-sense approach to standardizing weight limits within state boundaries has gone unnoticed, until now!

On July 24, 2014, Congressman Steve Southerland from Florida introduced the Right To Haul Act of 2014, H.R. 5201, that if passed would do just that, allow these loads access to the Interstate Highway System as long as they do not exceed individual State weight limitations.

The language is simple, “…individual State weight limitations for an agricultural commodity that are applicable to State highways shall be applicable to the Interstate System within the State’s borders for vehicles carrying an agricultural commodity.”

An agricultural commodity in the Bill is defined as, “…any agricultural commodity (including horticulture, aquaculture, and floriculture), food feed fiber, forestry products, livestock (including elk, reindeer, bison, horses, or deer), or insects and any product thereof.”ALC Logo color

What does this mean for the logging industry? Several things. First, you will now be able to transport your state legal roads on a safer and more efficient route to the mill or processing facility, avoiding the intersections in town and communities where vehicle and pedestrian accidents are more likely to occur. Second, your loads will be hauled on infrastructure that is oftentimes much better than the secondary roads found in the state and county, and third, when you travel through a weight station along the Interstate, as long as you meet the state legal requirements of the state you are hauling in, you will not be fined for an overweight load.

There are many states that already have in place weight tolerances for agricultural commodities, and allowing those loads on the Federal Interstate Highway System helps to standardize state and federal policies and improves the overall safety to the general motoring public. One key element of the Bill is that it does not require the States to change their existing regulations. This has been a deterrent of other attempts to change weight limits on the Interstate as oftentimes the States and Counties simply do not have the available funds to bring secondary roads up to the level where they can support heavier loads. You might get a bill that allows 97,000 pounds on the Interstate, but the question remains, how do you get it there?

We thank Congressman Southerland for introducing the Right to Haul Act of 2014 and request that you seek the support of your members of Congress in seeing that H .R. 5201 is passed in both the House and the Senate. It just make sense!

Danny Dructor is the Executive Vice-President of the American Loggers Council. The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As We See It: Social Hypocrisy

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

August 2014

2013-2014 ALC President Brian NelsonBy Brian Nelson, ALC President

Do you know where the products you use and the food that you eat come from? Chances are good that if you live in rural America then you probably do. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans who live outside of rural America have no clue where the products they use come from, nor do they want to know, either out of ignorance or out of a sense of ideology that somehow they are protecting our planet.

Recently I saw a flyer in our local paper for a national pharmacy chain where they were advertising “tree free” products that they were now carrying. After seeing this flyer I couldn’t help but wonder how many other companies were catering to this “green movement” because it is the “in” thing to do. For many, the belief is that timber harvests lead to the destruction of the environment and our planet even though science has proven that sustainably managed timber harvests do the exact opposite because a well-managed forest is a healthy forest. Many times the science is irrelevant to these people as it is more of a cause to believe in than what is proven right or wrong.

We’ve all seen or heard of numerous examples – from animal rights activists who eat meat or wear leather to the tree huggers who use countless products that are derived from wood. The example that I find the most ironic are the movie stars or recording artists who use fame as an opportunity to get on their soap box to spout rhetoric on how they’re so concerned about global warming or the environment as they get aboard their private jets – or how they object to commercial timber harvesting and yet they build these multi-million dollar mansions.

Hypocrisy is the first word that comes to mind! ALC Logo color

There will always be those that say one thing publicly and do just the opposite privately. Many of our elected officials have made a career out of doing just that over the years by catering to the votes. The problem is that these are the people that are making decisions or influencing the decision making process that affects the lives of all of us who work in natural resource related fields or live in rural America. For every one of us who lives, works, or recreates in rural America, there are countless more that do not, yet they are making decisions that affect how we live or work because they have the numbers.

The farming community has overcome many of the same issues in the past by educating the public on what they do and why they do it. The public’s perception of a given industry may not always be positive or correct but it is powerful. If the timber industry is
ever to be perceived for anything but what it is now, we must all do our part to educate the public and our elected officials on what we do and why we do it. Every person in this country uses products derived from wood in one fashion or another every day whether they care to admit it or not.

If we all made a concerted effort to educate those that either don’t like our industry or just don’t understand it then just maybe the next decision they make regarding it will be positive rather than negative.

Until Next Time,

LOG SAFE

Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As We See It: Youth Careers in Logging

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

July 2014

2013-2014 ALC President Brian NelsonBy Brian Nelson, ALC President

Are you concerned about the future of the timber industry? If not, you are most likely in the minority. Mill closures, mergers, high cost of raw materials, shortage of qualified operators, the constant barrage of government regulations, and the overall high cost of running a business today are just a few of the many hurdles that we all must navigate in order to stay afloat. While the American Loggers Council (ALC) can’t solve all these issues, they are currently working on many of them and will continue to do so into the future.

When my term as ALC President started last fall, I listed a set of goals that I wanted to accomplish. The issue at the top of that list was to address the entrance of the next generation of timber harvesters into our industry. In order for this industry to survive, we must have a qualified and competent work force to not only operate equipment but to also take over the reins of running the business when the current owner decides to step away. This issue is one that the ALC has been working on for a number of years now and just started to gain some momentum with the introduction of H.R.4590 and S.2335.

The Future Logging Careers Act – H.R.4590 was introduced by Rep. Labrador (R-ID ) while the Youth Careers In Logging Act -S.2335 was introduced by Sen. Risch (R-ID) and Sen.Crapo (R-ID ). Both of these bills would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 so that 16 and 17 year olds would be allowed to work in mechanized logging operations under parental supervision.2011 ALC logo b&w

Timber harvesting operations are similar to family farms – but with sophisticated and expensive harvesting equipment that requires young men and women to learn how to run the business, including equipment operation, maintenance and safety prior to the age of 18. However, young men and women in families who own and operate timber harvesting companies are denied the opportunity to work and learn the family trade until they reach adulthood. The potential next generation of professional timber harvesters are being denied the opportunity to make logging their career of choice until after they turn 18 because of outdated Child Labor Law Regulations while the agriculture industry is exempt from said regulations.

While much progress has been made in just the last couple of months, there is still a lot of work to be done if we want to see these bills passed into law. A vast majority of bills introduced in Congress end up dying in committee, so it is critical that we all do our part to ensure that these bills are passed out of committee and eventually signed into law.

Regardless of whether you work as a logger, work in a mill, or work for a timber company this issue has the potential to affect the entire wood supply chain because as current loggers leave the business there needs to be a new generation coming in or eventually our industry will cease to exist.

H.R.4590 has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce while S.2335 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

It is imperative that we contact directly as many House and Senate offices as possible and ask them to support the bill, so please pass this alert along to anyone who you feel is willing to respond, including other organizations and vendors who you do business with. We will need a majority in both the House and Senate to pass the bill once it comes to the floor for a vote!

If you are unsure of who your congressional delegates are then please contact the ALC office or go to the ALC website to find their contact information. I urge everyone in the timber industry to either make a call or send an email to their respective Senate and House members to get them to support this very important issue to our industry. The more Senate and House members hear from us the more likely they will be to support this and the more of them that support this the better chance we have of moving it forward.

Until next time,
Log Safe

Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

ReEnergy to Resume Operations at Ashland, Maine

Monday, August 4th, 2014

ReEnergy to Resume Operations at Biomass-to-Energy Facility in Ashland, ME

Ashland, ME – August 4, 2014 – ReEnergy Holdings today announced plans to resume operations at its biomass-to-electricity facility in Ashland, ME.

“We are very pleased to be resuming operations of this critical energy asset,” said ReEnergy Chief Executive Officer Larry D. Richardson. “This will restore jobs, improve forest health, and enhance reliability and stability in the delivery of electricity in northern Maine. This was only possible through the collaboration and support of key stakeholders.”

The 39-megawatt ReEnergy Ashland facility generates renewable energy from responsibly harvested green forest residue biomass and unadulterated wood. It is capable of producing approximately 284,000 MWh of electricity each year — enough to supply nearly 37,000 homes. The facility, which opened in 1993, was acquired by ReEnergy Holdings in December 2011 as part of a multi-facility portfolio purchase from Boralex Industries Inc. It has been idled since March 2011. It is anticipated that the facility will be fully operational by December.

“This is terrific news for Aroostook County,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.  “I thank ReEnergy for their investment and congratulate them on the decision to restart operations.  My team has worked proactively with ReEnergy over the last few years in an effort to get where we are today.  This is what happens when government partners with the private sector in efforts to improve our economy for the benefit of all Mainers.  ReEnergy’s decision is further proof Maine’s economy is headed in the right direction.”

Senator Susan Collins said: “The reopening of the Ashland biomass facility is welcome news for the important jobs it will restore and the renewable energy it will generate. The forest economy is a tremendous asset in our state and biomass plants like the one in Ashland play a vital role.”

The facility has a significant economic impact in northern Maine. The resumption of operations will restore 25 well-paying direct jobs and an estimated 150 indirect jobs associated with the facility, many of them related to the supply of the forest residue fuel supply to the facility and additional jobs tied to local goods and services related to the facility. At full production levels, the facility purchases more than $16 million annually in fuel from local loggers. When considering the payrolls of the direct and indirect jobs along with taxes paid by ReEnergy Ashland, the annual economic impact on the region is well in excess of $20 million.

ReEnergy’s plans to restart the power plant in Ashland is great news for the community,” said Ashland Town Manager Ralph Dwyer.  “It will create many well-paying direct jobs at the plant as well as other indirect jobs supplying the facility with biomass fuel.  The Town of Ashland appreciates ReEnergy’s commitment to our community and look forward to seeing the plant in operation again.”

ReEnergy has achieved certification to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Standard for the facilities that are currently operating in Maine and New York. ReEnergy will seek similar certification for the Ashland facility, and this certification will provide third-party verification that ReEnergy’s biomass procurement program promotes land stewardship and responsible forestry practices.  ReEnergy is the first company solely devoted to electricity production to be certified to the SFI Standard.

ReEnergy’s strategy is to own and operate its facilities in regions capable of supplying raw materials while simultaneously ensuring the long-term sustainability of the forests where those facilities are located. The company owns and operates three other biomass-to-energy facilities in Maine: ReEnergy Stratton (48 MW); ReEnergy Livermore Falls (39 MW); and ReEnergy Fort Fairfield (37 MW). ReEnergy also owns and operates a facility in Lewiston that processes construction and demolition material. With Ashland operating, ReEnergy will employ more than 140 people in Maine and support more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Biomass-to-energy offers substantial long-term employment and positive rural economic impacts. With in-state equipment manufacturing, fuel harvesting, processing, and jobs from facility construction to ongoing boiler service, the bioenergy industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy. As a rule of thumb, each megawatt of biomass-fueled electricity supports approximately five full-time jobs: one direct job in the biomass facility, and four indirect jobs in surrounding forests and communities.

The Ashland facility has been idled since March 2011 due to market conditions. The restart has been made possible due to a confluence of factors, including an increased need for electric grid stability in northern Maine, availability of transmission capacity, a growing need for a local outlet for mill and forest residues, and energy market changes.

The facility has been maintained in a manner that will allow for a prompt return to its previous high standard of reliability, but several months of preparation will be necessary to hire and re-hire employees, build fuel supply, and assess and re-tune equipment.

NewPage ‘indefinitely’ idles Rumford paper machine

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

By Whit Richardson, BDN Staff

RUMFORD, Maine — NewPage on Tuesday said it would “indefinitely” stop operation of one of the paper machines at its Rumford paper mill by mid-February because of tough economic conditions.

Employees at the Rumford mill — there are about 830 — received the news Tuesday morning, according to Anthony Lyons, a mill spokesman….

Click to read more from the: Bangor Daily News

MTA NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS ROADSIDE CLEARING

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

MTA NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS ROADSIDE CLEARING

Click Link Below for Long Notice or the logo at left to visit the MTA’s

Construction Contracts Page

MTA: 2013.13 Roadside Clearing Notice to Contractors

Nathaniel F. Carll

Purchasing Manager

Maine Turnpike Authority

2360 Congress Street

Portland, ME 04102

ncarll@maineturnpike.com

Phone: (207)482-8115

Fax:   (207)871-7739

cid:image001.png@01CE5178.0D27A370

Display of USDOT Numbers Now Required for All Motor Carriers in Maine

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Enforcement to begin January 1st

All Motor Carriers in Maine are now required to obtain and display a USDOT number.  Beginning January 1, 2013, the Maine State Police will begin enforcing the requirement for all motor carriers.

By way of background, prior to 2007 only interstate carriers and intrastate carriers of hazardous materials were required to display a USDOT number.  Those carriers with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 but under 26,001, who did not haul hazardous materials, were not required to have a USDOT number at all. Intrastate motor carriers over 26,000 have always been required to have a USDOT number but were not required to display it.

For the last year, Maine BMV through their municipal agents has required all motor carriers registering commercial vehicles over 10,000 to obtain a USDOT number.  Maine BMV will issue USDOT numbers to motor carriers over 26,000 pounds and will direct motor carriers between 10,001 and 26,000 to the on-line registration system of FMCSA.

The change in policy occurred because the Maine State Police now adopt Part 390 without amendment, thus the marking requirements in Part 390.21 apply to all motor carriers who operate commercial vehicles.  The definition of commercial vehicle is found in Part 390.5:

Commercial motor vehicle means any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle—

(1) Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or

(2) Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or

(3) Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or

(4) Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

All Motor Carrier’s must now conform to Part 390.21 which means having the legal trade name of their company and their USDOT number on each side of their vehicle.  The name and number must be in contrasting colors to their truck and visible from 50 feet during daylight hours.  The most common size for compliant lettering is 2 inches.

If you have questions or need assistance in obtaining a USDOT number, please feel free to contact the staff at MMTA who can assist with this and all of your compliance requirements.

Editor’s Note: This requirement will also apply to logger’s service trucks!

Maine Issues Letter to Feds opting out of Health Insurance Exchanges

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Maine Issues Letter to Federal Health Officials Opting Out of Health Insurance Exchanges

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today reiterated his recommendation that the State of Maine will not develop a state-based health insurance exchange as part of the implementation of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA also referred to as ACA).

Because the guidance issued in the August 13, 2012, request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is not legally binding, the State of Maine will not be submitting a Declaration Letter. Instead, Gov. LePage, in a letter to U.S. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, noted that the State of Maine has repeatedly stated that the law has severe legal problems, is bad policy, and overreaches into the lives and pocketbooks of fellow Americans.

“Maine will not build a state health insurance exchange as outlined by the ACA. We are not going to assist in implementation of this bill in its current form,” wrote Governor LePage. “The ACA is full of federal mandates; as such, even a state based health insurance exchange is actually controlled by the federal government. In the end, a state exchange puts the burden onto the states and the expense onto our taxpayers, without giving the state the authority and flexibility we must have to best meet the needs of the people of Maine.”

Governor LePage added that without knowing more details on the cost and nature of state-based exchanges, it is possible that our state could be placed in the untenable position of serving as the administrator of a new federal healthcare bureaucracy over which Maine has little control.

“Furthermore, many of the ACA regulations remain incomplete two and a half years after the bill passed. The legal status of portions of the bill remains unresolved, and there are too many unanswered questions. Complex technicalities make interpretation challenging, and unknown financial obligations—at a time when we face a fiscal crisis that we have yet to resolve—become extremely burdensome to businesses and families. Without such issues addressed, Maine cannot make a prudent and comprehensive decision in the best interests of our citizens.”

The Governor has also stated that the State of Maine will not expand Medicaid under the current structure that exists because it is not affordable.

Governor Paul LePage issued the rejection letter Thursday to arrive by Friday, Nov. 16, which is the deadline the federal government initially gave states to declare their intentions. On Thursday, HHS extended the deadline for states to make a decision on a state based exchange until Dec 14.

The full text of the letter is included below.

November 15, 2012

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

With the November 16 deadline for states to determine whether we will participate in the health care exchange program per the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) upon us, I am writing to make you aware of Maine’s decision. As you know, the State of Maine has had a number of concerns regarding the implementation of the ACA.

Because the guidance issued in the August 13, 2012 request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is not legally binding, the State of Maine will not be submitting a Declaration Letter. Instead, this letter serves as the state’s position regarding this issue.

Since the ACA was signed into law, the State of Maine, along with several other states, has repeated on a number of occasions and we continue to believe that the law has severe legal problems, is bad policy, and overreaches into the lives and pocketbooks of fellow Americans.

On November 14, 2012, I stated that our state would not build a state health insurance exchange as outlined by the ACA. We are not going to assist in implementation of this bill in its current form. The ACA is full of federal mandates; as such, even a state-based health insurance exchange is actually controlled by the federal government. In the end, a state exchange puts the burden onto the states and the expense onto our taxpayers without giving the state the authority and flexibility we must have to best meet the needs of the people of Maine.

Furthermore, many of the ACA regulations remain incomplete two and a half years after the bill passed. The legal status of portions of the bill remains unresolved, and there are too many unanswered questions. Complex technicalities make interpretation challenging, and unknown financial obligations—at a time when we face a fiscal crisis that we have yet to resolve—become extremely burdensome to businesses and families. Without such issues addressed, Maine cannot make a prudent and comprehensive decision in the best interest of our citizens.

We urge you to make public, as other states have requested, any contracts signed for the development of the federally facilitated Exchange. These documents would help states make informed decisions about the costs, timeframes, scope, operations and responsibilities of the federal exchange.

This law robs states of the ability to innovate and find cost-effective solutions that meet the needs of their citizens. We want meaningful reform, but the ACA masquerades as a free-market idea when in reality it is a stepping-stone to a single-payer system. Maine will not be complicit in the degradation of our nation’s premier health care system.

We need to address the real concerns of our health care system. I offer to work with your administration in finding workable, effective reforms and market solutions to the grave challenges we face.

Sincerely,

Paul R. LePage

Governor

cc:   The Honorable Olympia Snowe
The Honorable Susan Collins
The Honorable Michael Michaud
The Honorable Chellie Pingree
Commissioner Mary Mayhew
Commissioner Anne Head
Superintendent Eric Cioppa
Stefanie Nadeau

Maine Turnpike Tolls Increase Today

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

The Maine Turnpike increased toll rates are now in effect.  That means just a little more for each trip and probably more traffic on I-295 at least temporarily.   For the new tolls both cash and with the discounted EZ-Pass, visit the Maine Turnpike Authority’s website: http://www.maineturnpike.com or the Maine Turnpike EZ Pass Webiste: https://ezpassmaineturnpike.com/EZPass/.

Editor’s Note: November 1st the Turnpike website is scheduled for maintenance throughout the day.

Informational Training Sessions: Timber Harvesting in Shoreland Areas

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Statewide Standards for Timber Harvesting and Related Activities in Shoreland Areas will be taking effect in certain municipalities January 1, 2013.

On January 1, 2013 organized towns that have decided to adopt statewide standards for timber harvesting and related activities in shoreland areas will have statewide standards go into effect.

Towns that have either elected to retain their old shoreland zoning ordinance for timber harvesting or not taken action on statewide standards will continue under their old shoreland zoning rules until they take action.

Areas under the administration of the Land Use Planning Commission (formerly know as LURC) will also continue under current rules for the time being.

A map and list of the status of each town is below. The map and list will be updated as new towns adopt statewide standards.

Town Status List (pdf)

Town Status Map (pdf)

Informational Training Sessions

The Maine Forest Service will be holding a series of informational training sessions on statewide standards for timber harvesting and related activities in shoreland areas.  These standards will be replacing old town ordinances for timber harvesting in the shoreland zone in certain municipalities starting January 1, 2013. These sessions will run from 6:30-8:30 PM at each location and will take place regardless of weather. Each session will give an overview of the standards, provide information on resources for assistance with the standards and be an opportunity to ask questions.  Foresters, loggers and landowners who harvest timber in shoreland areas are encouraged to attend.

Click Here For More Information and Info. Session Schedule


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