Members of the Pulp & Paperworkers’ Resource Council (PPRC) visited Washington, D.C. the week of February 9, 2015 to meet with members of Congress and administration officials. Their goal was to educate elected and appointed officials and staffers on the impact of legislative decisions both on the environment and on the families and communities that depend on forest products manufacturing for their livelihood.
The PPRC is a grassroots organization of hourly employees of the forest products industry who educate on issues that impact jobs in their industry. More than 70 PPRC members from across the U.S. were in Washington last week to discuss several issues including the carbon neutrality of biomass and manufacturing byproducts, clean water, the regulatory burden impacting American manufacturing, endangered species, renewable energy, greenhouse gas regulations, truck weight reform and ensuring the competitiveness of the U.S. forest products industry.
Domtar sent four Union representatives: Joni Filipiak and Dave Tackes from Rothschild and Sam Borrello and Dane Condino from the Johnsonburg Mill. They met with the Domtar V.P. of Government affairs Thomas Howard, and Maria Brennan the Domtar V.P. for Supply Chain, who provided support and general knowledge on some of the issues being discussed.
Joni Filipiak provided the following report:
The 2015 PPRC group totaled 72, including the executive board. 66 of the members hit the Hill, making 404 legislative and administration meetings in 3 days. The remaining 7 members were meeting with regulatory agencies, meeting with the speaker of the House, Dept of DOT, The Vice President, Speaker of the House, EPA, CEQ, OMB, Senate Minority Whip Durbin, House Majority Leader Cornyn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Forest Service among others.
Issues this year were Carbon neutrality of Biomass and Greenhouse Gas regulations, Clean Water, Cumulative Regulatory Burden, Endangered Spieces Act and Truck Weights.
We met with the Domtar V.P. of Government affairs Thomas Howard, and Maria Brennan the Domtar V.P. for Supply Chain. Tom shared information on these topics and how it impacted Domtar as a whole. He got us the information before we left for D.C. so we were well prepared on the issues and understood how important these issues were for our Company.
LOAD LIMITS: Allowing an increase in Load limits on the roads alone could reduce the number of trucks used for shipping by 33%. That is a major savings in shipping costs for the company. In Wisconsin alone it would mean 2,816 less trucks on the road hauling product to our customers. Current road limits are 80,000#. The bill being sought would increase the limits to 97,000#. The trailers would be required to have a 6th axle which would help spread the weight, thus providing that the heavier vehicle does not increase pavement consumption. This 6th axle also gives the driver better braking for the load. This would mean 17% more ton‐miles per gallon. The U.S. DOT estimates that 6 axle rigs would save 2 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually and cut emissions by 19% per ton mile. The overall length of the rig/trailer would not increase, just the 6th axle at the back of the trailer.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: This involves the Northern Long Eared Bat. These little guys roam 39 states and are dying in some of those states due to a fungus called White Nose Syndrome (WNS). Wisconsin is among the 39 states. Activists are trying to prohibit logging in the woods within a
ADDITIONAL REGULATORY BURDEN – CLEAN AIR ACT: New regulations could cost billions per year and place thousands of jobs at risk and could be the costliest regulation in history. Boiler MACT still isn’t completed, and now new regulations are being implemented by the EPA. Pollutant limits today are 75 ppb in nonattainment areas. The new regulations may lower it to 60 ppb causing existing plants to install additional expensive equipment.
We were joined by 2 workers from the Johnsonburg mill, Dane Condino and Sam Borrello. This was their 1st trip to D.C. but with the information from Tom Howard they caught on fast and contributed as if they had been presenting the issues for years. They can’t wait until next year. We felt well informed on the issues and how they affected our jobs and the jobs of all of Domtar. This was by far the best support shown by the Company having us prepared to hit the issues head on in the meetings.
Long days and a lot of miles walked, but the regular workers hitting the Hill instead of the Lobbyists opens the elected officials eyes and ears to the issues because they have actual people who work in the mills that have to deal with the issues 1st hand.
Next year the PPRC will be celebrating their 25 year anniversary. As the group ages and workers retire, we say goodbye to old friends, but welcome new members who have a desire to help keep their Companies open and save their jobs. The 4 of us are proud to be a part of such a well‐respected organization on the Hill.”