The forest products industry faces a nationwide shortage of transportation capacity that is riddled with inefficiencies. Moving raw materials to mills and moving products to customers is increasingly difficult and costly.
Did you know that paper and wood products manufacturing moves more product than most all manufacturing sectors?
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that by 2025, the amount of freight shipped throughout the U.S. will increase by 87 percent from what it was in 2000.
Congress should make investments in our nation’s roads and bridges so that businesses can compete efficiently and safely. The PPRC advocates for investments and policies that will ease congestion on roads and create safer, stronger highways.
Truck weight limits have been frozen at 80,000 pounds on the national highway system since 1982. More than 90 percent of states allow heavier trucks to access some or all secondary roads, but federal regulations keep them off the interstates, which is the safest place for truck shipments. In addition, many of the heavier trucks that are already permitted on state roads operate on only five axles – instead of the safer six axles and additional brakes.
The PPRC recommends:
- Modernizing the antiquated weight limits on the interstate so that truck traffic can be reduced safely and efficiently.
- Fewer tucks will result in less congestion, less wear and tear, fewer accidents and a reduced carbon footprint.
Our industry relies on the rail system to move 33 million tons of pulp, paper and converted products.
Outdated regulatory protections and cumbersome processes at the Surface Transportation Board (STB) have allowed freight rail rates to double, and even though the volume of freight carried by the railroads has barely increased while the same time, rail service has declined.
More than 30 years have passed since the STB first classified the forest products industry’s shipments as exempt from its oversight.
As an exempt and captive commodity, when we encounter poor service or excessive rates, we have no recourse for negotiating with the railroads. If our exemption were revoked, forest products shippers would have the STB’s toolbox at our disposal when negotiating with our rail providers.
The PPRC recommends:
- Updating the STB’s outdated policies, specifically the forest products industry’s commodity exemption. This would level the playing field for our industry and give us the same tools other shippers enjoy.