Wood Building Material Legislation Advancing in Senate
This week ABMA met with U.S. Senate personal office and committee staff to discuss our sector’s issues and get a sense for what the post-election Lame Duck session has in store. The meetings covered a broad range of topics including potential incentives for wood building product utilization as a carbon sequestering/green house gas mitigation tool.
We learned that a markup in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will likely take place in November when the Senate returns to Washington to consider a number of forestry and forest product related bills. One of the bills that will be subject to this markup is S.2836, America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act. This is a wide-ranging bill introduced last year by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Barasso (R-WY)—Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively—Angus King (I-ME) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) that aims to restore ecosystems and boost carbon storage and sequestration through tree planting, fire risk reduction projects and expanded use of forest products and new wood technologies.
Regarding the latter, one of the bill’s provisions directs the Department of Energy, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture, to develop more accurate and efficient methods and technologies to measure and monitor the amount and average lifespan of carbon stored in wood building materials, and to publish US carbon estimates for these products based on these methods. There are a number of other provisions in the bill to promote so-called mass timber (or cross laminated timber), a relatively new growth area/trend for wood construction that allows architects and builders to construct taller buildings with wood because of its strength and fire resistant qualities. This innovative wood technology is gaining traction due to its aesthetic appeal, but also because of its carbon sequestering properties. Wide spread adoption of mass timber is expected to provide a significant demand pull for the full panoply of wood building materials used in construction.
Information on the other bills to be marked up is not yet available, but we will provide that information to you once we obtain it.
Root and Stem Act
On October 17, Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced the Root and Stem Act, legislation that provides the U.S. Forest Service additional tools to execute forest management projects on federal forest lands. While this legislation focuses on upstream wood supply issues, ABMA is flagging as a priority for our suppliers. Specifically the bill would:
- Authorize the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to propose and enter into stewardship contracts and agreements prior to the completion of environmental review
- Allow for the preparation of the environmental analysis to be included as a service item (i.e. paid for with timber receipts) in the stewardship contract or agreement, provided the environmental analysis would be completed by an independent third party and the agency retains final decision authority for both the environmental analysis and the project
- Ensure Root & Stem projects are developed through a collaborative process and protect the collaborative process and consensus-driven management by:
- Clearly defining “collaborative process” to eliminate confusion and encourage the use of the Root & Stem tool
- Affirming that participants can intervene in any subsequent civil action and are considered full participants in any potential settlement negotiation relating to the project to ensure local voices are heard
Companion legislation, introduced by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), was unanimously reported out of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining on June 7, 2022.
National Forest Products Week
President Biden issued a proclamation designating October 16-22 as National Forest Products Week. The proclamation and dedicated week is issued each year in recognition of the considerable economic and environmental benefits that forests and wood building products deliver to our country.