I waited to post my first editorial until the day after the elections, deciding that our course of action in 2013 would depend on the results that have now been tallied.
Looking at the results, my best summary would be this; unless members of Congress decide that it is time to do what is best for our country, many of our economic issues are not going to go away any time soon.
For the past two years, with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House, there has been absolute gridlock in Washington, D.C., amounting to a sense of unconcern about the real issues facing the majority of Americans, including jobs and the economy. With the status unchanged following yesterday’s elections, unless both sides of the aisle make the decision to work with each other in earnest, we can anticipate at least another two years of more of the same.
If this administration is sincerely interested in getting this nation’s economy back on a roll, then it will have to be willing to compromise on many fronts, including first and foremost the many regulations that are currently being imposed on all industries in this country.
The American Loggers Council intends on keeping the pressure on Congress to do what is best for the industry, including passing legislation that would permanently exempt storm water run-off from forest roads from National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, streamlining the NEPA process to allow the U.S. Forest Service and other federal land managers the opportunity to offer and award more timber sales, and to take a long hard look at the National Forest Management Act to see what amendments might be needed to bring the agency into the 21st century.
We will continue to work on issues impacting logging and transportation as well as those keeping us from bringing the next generation of loggers into the workforce.
Markets will continue to be a major concern, and as a Council, we will do what we can to encourage the development of new markets for the products and services that our members provide. With natural gas being abundant and cheap, it may be many years before we see the development of woody biomass as a larger component of a renewable fuels industry, but we can look to many off-shore markets in countries where renewable fuels standards are in place and demand is high for our products.
I encourage all of you to continue to look for diversification in your operations, and to become more proactive in seeking alternative markets for the goods and services that you provide. There is going to be a turning point for the professional timber harvesters here in the U.S., and based on some of the reports that I have been receiving, we might very well be knocking on that door of opportunity right now.
The American Loggers Council will serve as that conduit to help to disseminate the flow of information, but unless you are actively involved with your State or Regional Logging Association, you might not hear the message. Together, we can make it work, and I look forward to serving all of you over the next twelve months.
Travis Taylor is the President of the American Loggers Council and owner of Travis Taylor Logging and Chipping, Inc., located in Goldonna, Louisiana.
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.