Archive for May 18th, 2008

by jhwygirl

Right now, you’ll only find news of this in the Canadian and UK press, but tucked away in what is being touted as the veto-proof Farm Bill, passed by both the House and Senate this week, is a late insertion by Senators Baucus, Snowe (R-Maine) and Chambiliss (R-GA) which ensures enforcement of the 2006 U.S.- Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA).

SLA required Canadian exporters of softwood lumber to provide importers with proof that they have paid export taxes on their products. Canadians bemoan that it also includes enforcement measures like company audits, penalties, and fines.

In plain language, the U.S. Importer Declaration Program provision will require the U.S. government to verify compliance with the agreement and impose penalties on importers who knowingly violate trade rules.

It always amazes me that we need laws to enforce laws.

Now, the U.S. has initiated 4 trade actions in international courts against Canada over what we’ve said is subsidized timber. Baucus, on the other hand, has spearheaded actions since at least 2002 to stop this flooding of the U.S. market with cheap Canadian timber. Currently available data indicates that Canada to date has under-collected SLA export taxes by about $50 million.

The Canadian timber industry, on the other hand, is cutting its forests at an unsustainable rate.

In other news, Stimson ushers out its last workers from the Bonner mill, all of whom face an uncertain future.

Now, that Missoulian article I link to above overlooks one glaring statement by logging trucker Leroy Christofferson (“It’s for internal reasons that we don’t really know about yet”), by quickly launching into solely market statements – the Missoulian has yet to look into internal causes and reasons such as poor management and a union contract that was set for renewal this year – but even I have to admit that market forces are at play. Any downturn in the housing market, with subsidized Canadian timber in the mix, is going to magnify the effects on the U.S. market.

But Baucus done good. It’s a shame that reform has to be tucked into these funding bills – remember, Baucus had unsuccessfully attempted to remove subsidies for big oil in the stimulus package, while moving that savings in subsidy over to tax credits for alternative energy – but if that’s the way it has to get done, then go ahead and get ‘er done, Max.

Apparently, you got to give a little cash to get a little reform.

by jhwygirl

Mt. St. Helen’s erupted 27 years ago today, back in 1980.

I wasn’t here, but anytime someone mentions it, you’ll find me asking 50 questions. Consider that a warning, I guess. I know there was a hell of lot of ash that fell.

On that note – I’d sure love to hear some stories, if any of our readers have ’em.

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