Your Source for information on the forest products industry
Renewable Energy—Grassroots Activity on RES
In advance of Senate consideration of energy legislation in coming weeks, AF&PA is working with member companies, state associations, and allies in the industry, labor, and environmental communities to advance industry priorities. In particular, we are working to alter the proposed Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would mandate the production of 20 percent renewable electricity by 2021. Our improvements to the RES would include equal treatment for industry’s biomass energy, the promotion of sustainable forest management, and incentives for increasing biomass supplies.
AF&PA has created a tool kit of grassroots material to be used for advocating industry priorities, including a fact sheet, talking points, a question-and-answer document, and a sample letter to be sent to Senators. All materials can be found at www.growthevote.org. If you haven’t already done so, please contact your Senators today using the letter on Grow the Vote and ask that they pass renewable energy solutions that don’t harm our industry.
Net Operating Loss (NOL)
AF&PA is working with the National Association of Manufacturers and other organizations to include Net Operating Loss (NOL) provisions in upcoming federal legislation. A scaled back NOL provision was included in the stimulus bill, H.R. 1, including a five-year carry back of 2008 NOLs limited to businesses with gross receipts of $15 million or less. The current ask is for inclusion of language in any must-pass legislation applicable to mid to large size companies that will extend the carryback period for NOLs to 5 years from the current 2 year allowance for tax years ending in 2008 and 2009.
Legislation should also include AMT (alternative minimum tax) NOL relief by temporarily suspending the 90 percent limitation on the utilization of AMT NOLs for this period. Extending the carryback period to 5 years would allow companies to carry back losses to earlier profitable years. Thus, this relief would quickly provide cash to companies during this unparalleled economic period. Such critical NOL relief would help manufacturers, retailers, and companies retain jobs, make critical investments, and in some cases, stay open for business.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is slated to release its draft climate change and energy bill on Tuesday, March 31. It is expected to be similar to previous cap-and-trade and renewable energy proposals from Chairmen Waxman and Markey,
and may include provisions designed to minimize “leakage” from energy intensive, trade exposed manufacturing industries. Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman remains intent on passing legislation out of the Committee before Memorial Day. AF&PA will continue to engage in advocacy with Energy & Commerce Committee staff members in advance of expected Committee action this spring.
This week the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on the international trade aspects of climate change. Border adjustments and industry emission allowances were also focuses of that hearing. Statements were made by Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI-12) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX-8). Also, Committee Member Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-25) introduced the Safe Markets Development Act this week, a 100% emission allowance auction cap-and-trade bill that proposes an independent board to determine and maintain emission targets.
Rail Customer Day 2009
Each year advocates from a broad spectrum of the rail shipper community and from all parts of the U.S. travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with policymakers and their staffs as part of Rail Customer Day on Capitol Hill. On March 25, 2009, AF&PA and other participants had the opportunity to speak directly to the men and women who shape freight rail policy and expressed to them how these policies impact their businesses and American consumers. During their meetings on Capitol Hill, Rail Customer Day participants specifically asked Members of Congress to support the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 (S. 146/H.R. 233). Additionally, Members heard directly from their constituents on why it is imperative to improve the rate challenge process at the Surface Transportation Board.
In a statement to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, as part of a hearing on building efficiency, AF&PA urged Congress to let competition among green building rating systems improve green building policies and practices. AF&PA also urged Congress to avoid legislation that would exclude the energy and environmental benefits of wood products from green building projects or grant a government-imposed monopoly to a single rating system. The Committee is poised to consider building efficiency measures as part of energy legislation over the next few weeks.
In late February, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia remanded the PM fine annual National Ambient Air Quality Standard NAAQS—which AF&PA supported—back to EPA for reconsideration. The tighter daily standard was not challenged. The court cited EPA’s failure to respond to the scientific evidence presented by its own staff and the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) in its rationale for remanding. Given that EPA already is committed to reviewing the PM NAAQS by 2011 and it has other NAAQS to update, the reconsideration will be taken up during that process. However, it is clear that EPA will promulgate tighter PM limits at that time. In fact, in the closely related ozone NAAQS case that was about to be briefed, EPA recently asked the same court to hold the case in abeyance as the Obama Administration decides whether it wants to support the Bush-era rule that did not go as far as EPA staff or the CASAC recommended. AF&PA is part of an industry litigation coalition supporting the ozone standard. Tighter PM and Ozone NAAQS would require forest product mills to install further controls for volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulates.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision issued on March 3, ruled that an environmental group must show an imminent personal environmental injury to one of its members to challenge procedural regulations in federal court. Summers v. Earth Island Institute. AF&PA joined a friend of the court brief supporting the government’s contention that the plaintiffs in this case lacked “standing” under the Constitution to challenge the regulations. The Court rejected the environmental groups’ argument that an injury may be established based on a statistical probability that one of a group’s many members will at some point be injured by a project adopted under the challenged procedures. Rather, the Court held that the groups must show specific injury to a specific member from a specific project. The Court emphasized that such a showing is all the more critical because the challenged regulations are procedural; that is, they neither require nor forbid an action by the environmental groups.
The ruling came in a case challenging Forest Service regulations that dispensed with notice to the public and the opportunity to appeal projects that are unlikely to cause significant environmental impacts, such as small timber sales. While the decision will not preclude challenges to agency rules, it should have the salutary effect of slowing down the rush to the courthouse based purely on disagreement with agency policy.
National Journal Energy & Environment Experts Blog: A Voice for Our Industry The forest products industry is the leading producer and user of renewable biomass energy. In fact, the amount of energy we produce from biomass exceeds total solar, wind, and geothermal energy generation combined. Sixty-five percent of the energy used at American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) member company paper and wood products facilities is generated onsite from carbon-neutral renewable biomass. Our industry also is a leader in highly efficient co-generation technology, and we co-generate electric power, much of it from biomass, for both internal use and for sale to the power grid. Given the forest products industry’s leadership in renewable energy, AF&PA supports the goals of a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) but we oppose federal RES proposals that do not recognize existing renewable energy producers and provide equal treatment with new market entrants. As the demand for biomass-based power increases, forest product companies could be at a significant competitive disadvantage without equal treatment for their renewable power because...
AF&PA President and CEO, Donna Harman was recently invited by National Journal to become the only forest products industry representative on this highly-respected issue magazine’s energy and environment experts blog, which also includes Senators Bingaman, Boxer, and Inhofe, and Congressmen Waxman, Markey, Engel, Dingell, and Upton, as well as other thought leaders from manufacturing, ENGOs, and think tanks.
The National Journal’s energy and environmental correspondent sends members a question every Monday to which they post responses. The question for the week of March 9 was “Should Industry Pay to Pollute?”
Donna Harman’s full post can be read here.
Bob Slocum, Executive Vice President of the North Carolina Forestry Association, shares his article, “Confused About Climate Change?” The full article can be read here.
Republicans are hoping for Goode luck in 2010
Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA-5) has filed to reclaim the congressional seat he lost to Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) in the 2008 election cycle. Although Goode filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) last week, he still maintains that a final decision has yet to be made on whether or not he will try and win the seat back for the Republicans. A candidate must file with the FEC once they receive $5,000 in contributions, which is what prompted Goode to file.
Dodd faces some heat in Connecticut?
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), who is up for re-election in 2010, is coming under fire for his role in the AIG bonus catastrophe. Dodd currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee that was heavily involved in passing a bill protecting the outlandish bonuses for senior executives at the insurance company.
Dodd’s popularity in his home state has been faltering for quite some time. He’s been vulnerable due to a few questionable decisions, such as his defense of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and his collection of numerous campaign dollars from both companies. Also not helping Dodd in the polls – allegations of special treatment from Countrywide Financial, who allegedly gave below market loans on two of Dodd’s refinanced properties.
All this is putting Republicans in good position to turn this blue state red. Republicans have recruited former Congressman Rob Simmons to run against Dodd in 2010. A recent poll showed that if the election were held today, Dodd and Simmons would be in a neck-and-neck fight. It’s still a long way off until 2010, but as of right now, Dodd is facing the fight of his career.
Can the Democrats win the big seat in Alabama?
Current Governor of Alabama, Bob Riley is in his final term and the race to replace him is already filled with eager candidates. The Democrats have two potential top tier candidates in the primary with Lt. Gov.-and former Governor- Jim Folsom, Jr. and Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL-7).
The Republicans, who were hoping Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1) would throw his hat in the ring, will have a choice among state Treasurer Kay Ivey (R), former Judge Roy Moore (R), who ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary against Gov. Riley in 2006, and businessman Tim James (R), son of former Governor Fob James.
The field is packed with qualified candidates on both sides of the aisle. Democrats are most likely hoping they can win the final election with either of the two top tier candidates on the ticket - Folsom and Davis - but Alabama isn’t the easiest place for Democrats; after all, Barack Obama only received 39% of the vote in Alabama last November.
Get involved!Contact AF&PA’s PAC/Grassroots Director Anita Peduzzi for additional information (202-463-2755, firstname.lastname@example.org).