March 15, 2013

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ads-templateSkipping BETR payment would be ‘a very difficult pill to swallow’  

Testimony went on for hours – and hours – Wednesday as the Appropriations Committee heard from more than 100 local officials, businesses and others affected by the governor’s budget plan, including his proposal to convert property remaining in the BETR program to the BETE program.

“You are making it tough to be a manufacturer in Maine, especially rural Maine, making it tough for out- of-state decision makers to think of Maine as a place to invest,” said Tony Lyons, director of fiber supply and public policy at Rumford Paper Company, a subsidiary of NewPage Corporation. Read more

at the legislatureIn other legislative action this week, a public hearing was held Tuesday on LD 646, An Act To Remove the 100-megawatt Limit on Renewable Sources of Energy. The bill, which came from Gov. Paul LePage’s office, would remove the 100-megawatt limit for all sectors of renewable energy, including hydropower.

 According to the Sun Journal story, Patrick Woodcock, director of LePage’s Energy Office, said Tuesday the administration is flexible about changing the bill and is open to a simple expansion of the cap allowing generators of up to 400 megawatts to be included.

MFPC is monitoring the bill, but our general policy is to support efforts to decrease energy costs for Maine businesses. A benchmarked analysis of energy costs within the northeast and other forest industry states emphasizes the non-competitive position of Maine wood manufacturers. We believe focusing on factors that affect the price of delivered natural gas will yield the greatest potential for relief. We support efforts to encourage hydro-power transmission through Maine in exchange for line lease fees that can be dedicated to lowering energy costs for all Mainers. We do not support efforts designed to dilute the value of REC credits for biomass because we have members who use biomass to produce energy and are dependent on this revenue stream.

MFPC also submitted testimony:

  • In support of LD 421,  An Act to prohibit the Unauthorized harvesting of Wild Mushrooms and Fiddleheads, as long as exception is included that allows the policies of individual landowners to take precedence.
  • In support of LD 142, An Act To Add Using an All-terrain Vehicle to the List of Activities Included in the Definition of “Guide” in the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Law.

Michaud sends Obama 159 letters from Mainers about forest products

 “The most pressing issue facing Maine’s paper industry is the subsidy package given in September 2012 by the province of Nova Scotia to the paper mill in Port Hawkesbury.” Rep. Mike Michaud told President Obama in a letter this week.

Following up on his tour of Maine’s pulp and paper sector earlier this year, Rep. Michaud sent the letter to summarize his findings and urge action on issues such as energy costs, transportation challenges and federal environmental regulations. He also sent 159 letters he received from Mainers on a range of issues facing the paper industry.

“I’m hopeful the president will do everything in his power to work with me, Congress and his administration on the critical issues our pulp and paper sector continues to face.” Michaud said. Read more.

What happens to UMaine forestry graduates?
Bob Wagner

At the MFPC Board meeting Thursday, Bob Wagner, director of the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, reported on a recent survey of students who graduated from 2002 to 2011. Here are some of the results:

Employment Success:

  • 82% of alums had a job in forest resources. Almost half had secured a job before graduating, two-thirds found a job within 6 months, and nearly three-quarters had a forest resources job within 1 year.
  • 88% work full-time, 5% hold temporary positions, and 3% work part time.
  • 18% were enrolled in graduate school after leaving SFR. Many others went on to receive additional professional certificates or licenses.

Wages: Median pay for foresters and conservation scientists is $57,420 per year (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Job Location: About 60% of alums indicated that their first job was in Maine.40% acquired jobs out-of-state.

Educational Quality: Alumni felt that SFR’s diverse curriculum had prepared them well for their careers. Alums found that the skills and knowledge they learned also were transferrable to careers outside forest resources. Program strengths cited by our students included the quality of our faculty, emphasis on hands-on field and technical skills, and critical thinking.

Allagash Advisory Council meets March 22 in Augusta

 The Allagash Wilderness Waterway Advisory Council will be meeting on Friday, March 22, at Room 202 of the Cross State Office Building in Augusta, from 9 – 11:30 a.m.

 This meeting will be broadcast over the internet. Link: Audio Broadcast Page: 

 Included on the agenda are: