March 22, 2011 – Hemphill, Texas. Fifty-six members of the American Loggers Council traveled to Washington, DC on March 18-19 to discuss with members of Congress the issues that are impacting the timber harvesting industry and to hold their Spring Board of Directors meeting. The members completed over 70 visits to Senate and House members on transportation, federal timber sales, renewable energy and EPA regulation issues.
In general, members of both the House and the Senate were receptive to the issues that the members carried, and overall got a much better perspective of the plight of the industry and the need to get things moving again. EPA air and water regulations, transportation issues, US Forest Service budgets and energy policies were just a few of the items that were discussed and how they were impacting the small businesses that are the backbone of the logging industry.
ALC members also visited with representatives from various agencies, including the US Forest Service, Department of Transportation, Department of Interior and US Department of Agriculture and made strategic visits with other organizations with similar issues.
Two group visits were completed on Friday morning. The first with representatives from the US Department of Transportation to discuss CSA and weight issues while the second group attended a joint briefing by the US Forest Service, US Department of Interior and the US Department of Agriculture.
Friday afternoon, John Deere hosted an informational meeting at the National Association of Manufacturers offices in DC that included Congressman Reid Ribble representing the 8th District in Wisconsin, J.B. Penn – Chief Economist with John Deere, William “Bill” Kovacs – Vice president of Environment and Regulatory Affairs with the US Chamber of Commerce, Bill Imbergamo – Senior Professional Staff with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Jay Jensen – Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the US Department of Agriculture. Candid questions were entertained by all speakers and potential solutions to many issues were addressed.
John Deere also hosted a reception and dinner on Friday evening where many of the discussions continued with John Deere representatives Kevin Karlix, Nate Clark and Candace Schnoor.
Matt Jensen, the current President of the American Loggers Council was pleased with the turnout and the results of the visits and commented that “Our members are not up here looking for a handout. They are simply asking for the opportunity to work. Given all of the other organizations visiting Washington during these budget discussions looking to retain their “piece of the federal pie,” our visits should have been a breath of fresh air to our Congressmen and Senators.”
The ALC Board of Directors met on Saturday for regular business and passed two resolutions dealing with EPA’s Tailoring Rule regarding biomass utilization and greenhouse gas emissions, which if implemented, could hurt investments biomass energy markets which the industry needs. The second resolution dealt with the need to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals interpretation of the Clean Water Act which would require a National Pollution Discharge Elimination Permit (NPDES) permit for harvesting operations where water runoff from logging operations found its way to the ditches and culverts in a logging road, overturning a three-decade-plus understanding of the Clean Water Act by holding that harvesting timber is an “industrial activity” rather than a silvicultural activity which has been exempt from the permitting process.
President Jensen and the entire ALC Board of Directors expressed their sincere thanks to John Deere for hosting and participating in the meetings, and the decision was made that the ALC Executive Committee will convene again in June to further discuss the strategic direction that the ALC is headed in and how best to continue to represent the logging industry.