Terrible weather outside could not keep landowners, loggers, foresters, sawmill operators, and others in the forest products industry from showing up in force on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in Representatives Hall in the New Hampshire State Capitol to tell the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee why HB 225 is a bad bill. More than 40 people testified on the bill, almost all of them in opposition.
The proposed legislation would repeal the Renewable Portfolio Standard law, causing the industry to lose a valuable market for wood chips and pulp, as biomass energy plants that burn pulp and chips depend on the RPS law. The law provides economic incentives for the development and retention of renewable energy power plants (e.g. biomass electric power plants, biomass thermal plants, solar, small hydroelectric) by creating a marketplace for the sale of and the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) by utilities and competitive energy suppliers.
Marcella Perry, retired chief financial officer at LaValley-Middleton Building Supply and DiPrizio Pine Sales, explained to committee members why HB 225 would be so devastating to the industry: “Having a viable wood chip and pulp market means we have viable lumber markets. And those markets mean jobs, plain and simple.”
In prepared testimony, the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association stated:
“These power plants provide a key market for low-grade timber. According to the U.S. Forest Service’s forest inventory analysis (FIA) data, almost two-thirds of the standing timber in New Hampshire is considered low-grade (unable to produce a sawlog). Without markets for low-grade timber, landowners and land managers are unable to economically improve forest health and vigor, and in many instances entire woodlots go unmanaged; weeding and thinning of diseased and malformed timber does not occur, weakening these woodlots both environmentally and ecologically. Worse, timber lots are sometimes ‘high-graded,’ where the logger ‘cuts the best and leaves the rest,’ resulting in genetically inferior timber stands with poor growing stock.”
“When low-grade timber markets diminish, New Hampshire’s sawmill industry suffers for two reasons: log supply and mill waste disposal. As mentioned above, when low-grade timber markets are devalued or disappear, entire woodlots do not see any management. With no timber, including sawlogs, being harvested from these woodlots, sawmills have difficulty procuring sawlogs to mill. Secondly, when low-grade wood markets shrink, mills are unable to find homes for their chipped slabs and sawdust. Currently, we are seeing some mills already stockpiling chips and sawdust, because their delivery quotas to biomass power plants or the few remaining pulp/paper mills have been cut.”