2011-08-28

Tiny bug, massive damage

This book should be required reading for people who still laugh at those stale dinosaur-flatulence jokes whenever the topics of environmental degradation and global warming come up.

Earth-orbiting astronauts and airline passengers crossing the Rocky Mountains can't miss seeing vast and ever-widening patches of red and grey among green-canopied pine forests, stark evidence of a growing empire fashioned by minuscule architects.

Worldwide there are similar scenes, far-flung territories belonging to an empire so old and adaptive that it once included dinosaurs and today controls the vagaries of our continent's huge lumber economy.

U.S. seeks $499 million export tax against B.C. lumber companies

The United States is seeking a $499 million penalty against Interior British Columbia lumber companies in a complaint filed under the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

The U.S. alleges that Interior sawmills unfairly benefited from the mountain pine beetle epidemic by paying salvage log prices for dead pine trees that were successfully milled into lumber. It bases much of its claim on the fact that the volume of low-grade logs being harvested and milled into lumber has gone up in the B.C. Interior, but the volume of higher grade construction lumber did not decline.

The low salvage timber rate lumber producers paid for pine beetle wood, 25 cents a cubic metre, resulted in a $499 million benefit to B.C. producers in contravention of the 2006 agreement, the United States Trade Representative argues in a brief filed last week with the London Court of International Arbitration. The brief was only made public this week. The U.S. wants the penalty to be imposed as an export tax levied against Interior producers.

Fuel mitigation funds requested

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) will apply to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) for grants to be used for the preparation of fuel management prescriptions.

The proposed projects include removing pine beetle-killed trees in forested areas at Loon Lake and South Green Lake for wildfire fuel mitigation.

TNRD Area E (Bonaparte Plateau) Director Sally Watson says the applications include one for prescription funding near Loon Lake, and another for operational funding at South Green Lake.

2011-08-15

U.S. softwood challenge 'frivolous'

B.C.'s former former forestry minister says the complaint against B.C. softwood lumber producers filed by U.S. forestry companies is "frivolous."

The U.S. submission was filed with the London Court of International Arbitration in January after consultations last fall failed to result in a resolution.

The claim suggests B.C. trees destroyed by the pine beetle have been turned into logs or lumber — at low provincial government cutting fees — and shipped to the U.S. market, giving B.C. mills an unfair advantage in softwood sales.

B.C. lumber group says U.S. softwood lumber filing is without merit

The U.S. arbitration submission under the Softwood Lumber Agreement will remain confidential for a week, but a group representing B.C. lumber producers says reports about its contents suggest the unfair trade case against Canada is without merit.

The British Columbia Lumber Trade Council says the U.S. case to the London Court of International Arbitration filed Tuesday ignores the “real facts” associated with the impact of the Mountain Pine Beetle on the B.C. Interior.

U.S. forestry companies complain that B.C. trees destroyed by the pine beetle have been turned into logs or lumber — at low provincial government cutting fees — and shipped to the U.S. market.

2011-08-09

U.S. expected to demand billions in penalties over B.C. softwood lumber

The United States is expected to seek billions of dollars in penalties Tuesday when it files its case to back a claim that British Columbia is subsidizing wood damaged by the mountain pine beetle.

The U.S. Trade Representative is slated to present a brief to the London Court of International Arbitration seven months after it alleged that British Columbia was breaking the 2006 softwood lumber agreement by selling the province's timber at artificially low prices.

In January, it filed a complaint after consultations last fall failed to result in a resolution.

Lumber Dispute Goes To Hearing

The latest round of the Canada U.S. softwood lumber dispute will continue Tuesday as the United States is set to make its case at an international tribunal that British Columbia is subsidizing timber prices for pine-beetle damaged trees. The U.S. Trade Representative, on Tuesday will present its brief to the London Court of International Arbitration in its case that British Columbia is using its program to salvage pine-beetle-damaged timber to sell wood to lumber producers at below rates established in the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement.

The London Court of Arbitration is the body Canada and the U.S. selected as the final level of appeal for disputes under the agreement.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk in January filed its intent to challenge Canada at the London Court after a round of consultations between the U.S. and Canada last fall, the first level of dispute resolution, failed to reach a conclusion.

Tree removal costs trimmed

In order to help private property owners with the mitigation of wildfire threatened areas caused by pine beetle, the District of Lake Country will be subsidizing the costs of tree removal and disposal.

The multi-year pine beetle mitigation project will begin in Carr’s Landing with interested property owners completing an application form and undergoing a site inspection of their property to determine the amount of work required.

Once site inspections are complete owners will receive a cost estimate and can then decide if they wish to continue with the mitigation work.

Canada U.S. softwood lumber dispute to pick up in London

The latest round of the Canada U.S. softwood lumber dispute will continue Aug. 9 as the United States is set to make its case at an international tribunal that British Columbia is subsidizing timber prices for pine-beetle damaged trees.

The U.S. Trade Representative, on Aug. 9, will present its brief to the London Court of International Arbitration in its case that British Columbia is using its program to salvage pine-beetle-damaged timber to sell wood to lumber producers at below rates established in the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement.

The London Court of Arbitration is the body Canada and the U.S. selected as the final level of appeal for disputes under the agreement.

Bioenergy projects approved for Interior

BC Hydro has approved $300 million in bioenergy projects in the Interior and north-central B.C., regions hard hit by the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the U.S. housing collapse.

The projects will help better utilize the abundant waste wood in the areas, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman said Thursday. The four projects will also help generate economic activity and jobs, he said in an interview.

"I believe we have a huge bioenergy future in these regions," said Coleman, noting that there is also deteriorating old-growth timber in northwest B.C. that can be tapped for bioenergy.