MAY-JUN 2018

Crossties is published for users and producers of treated wood crossties.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 20 of 30

CONTACT RTA WEBSITE BECOME A MEMBER BECOME A MEMBER RTA WEBSITE CONTACT Cahaba Pressure Treated Forest Products Eagle Metal Products East Coast Railroad Gross & Janes Co. Hurdle Machine Works Koppers Inc. CROSSTIES • MAY/JUNE 2018 18 The greater wood products industry has long fought for recognition from the federal govern- ment on the carbon neutrality of woody bio- mass. And it appears the day has finally come. Earlier this year, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a policy statement announcing a policy direction that "…is intended to: 1) provide clear recognition of the benefits of using forest biomass for energy production at stationary sources and 2) signal the agency's intent to treat the biogenic CO2 emissions associated with the use of forest biomass for energy by stationary sources as carbon neutral in future regulatory actions and in various programmatic contexts, in accordance with the Executive Orders and Congressional direction described above." To further entrench this scientifically based thinking in the U.S. government decision- making process, EPA is moving to develop a formal rule embodying the principles in the announcement. Recent meetings with EPA officials suggest this rulemaking may be time consuming and we should not expect final action for a couple of years. However, we are encouraged by the signals being sent from EPA on this critical issue and will continue to assist them in forg- ing a final policy that is beneficial to the entire biomass value chain. This latest action is just the latest devel- opment in years of work by the Hardwood Federation and our allies in the fight to pro- mote the carbon neutrality of biomass. Lumber industry leaders, employees and Washington representatives have attended hundreds of meetings and placed countless phone calls to members of Congress and their staffs, cabinet members and administration officials of at least three presidents. If this seems like a lot of work to move the needle slowly and incrementally, it is. But the indus- try remains committed to this concept of codi- fied biomass carbon neutrality at the federal level because it resides at the very heart of the wood products industry's sustainability mes- sage and it is a principle increasingly under attack from anti-forestry activists. The Hardwood Federation's ongoing educa- tion efforts with policymakers about the envi- ronmental benefits of forest products opera- tions emphasize the fact that timber arriving at lumber mills represents one step in a larger "carbon cycling" process. Trees are harvested and efficiently con- verted into floors, millwork and cabinets at mills that, once installed in homes and commercial buildings, will store the carbon embedded in that wood product for genera- tions. Parts of the tree that are not fit for mak- ing wood products like bark, chip and sawdust are combusted for energy recovery, typically in the form of heat and power at lumber facili- ties or sold to pellet producers or other end users. At the point where forest biomass is combusted for energy, carbon that had been siphoned from the atmosphere and stored in the tree fiber through the duration of its grow- ing years is released to the atmosphere. But what separates wood products processes from industries that rely on fossil-derived materials like oil, gas or coal is that the thriv- ing, sustainable forests from which raw mate- rials are sourced continue the carbon uptake cycle in a virtual loop. In other words, wood product production does not introduce "new" carbon to the atmo- sphere like fossil fuel combustion does. That's why we like to describe it as "carbon cycling." Until recently, we had assumed this was a principle beyond dispute. However, over the past few years, many opponents to timber har- vesting have begun making claims that forest- based biomass is a non-renewable resource. Many outside the wood products industry are unaware of—or refuse to acknowledge— the fact that robust markets for forest products actually promote the health of the nation's forest resource. The beautiful and long lived wood products, including flooring produced by the industry, provide critical demand for working forests so that landowners managing those forests can continue to keep those lands as forest lands. A little known fact is that most of the forest land in this country is privately owned in par- cels that average well under 500 acres. These small private landowner suppliers depend on a return on investment to keep their holdings forested and not convert them to other uses like row crop agriculture or development. Thriving markets for forest products are the primary reason there are more forested acres in this country today than in the 1950s—a time period during which the coun- try experienced an unprecedented post-war homebuilding spree. Unfortunately, bumper sticker messaging around saving trees by not using wood is the narrative that has prevailed among many and it is a myth we continue debunk on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. But we are finally seeing consistent progress towards codified federal government sup- port for our sustainability message. NWFA members have been incredible active on this issue and we thank you for your advocacy. This is just one piece, one important piece, of the overall message we all should be deliver- ing. That wood products are environmentally friendly and sustainable. RTA CONFERENCE SAWMILL FOCUS Carbon Neutrality Moves Forward Dana Cole is executive director of the Hardwood Federation. The Federation serves as the united voice of the hardwood industry. By Dana Lee Cole Thriving markets for forest products like wood ties are the primary reason there are more forested acres in the country today than in the 1950s.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Crossties - MAY-JUN 2018