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Gainesville Sun: New EPA regs will drive up biomass costs

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Florida division of the American Loggers Council is grateful the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case on controlling all types of water runoff. We have yet to see any significant environmental benefit proven to warrant the requirements for logging roads to obtain Clean Water Act permits.

We all want our waterways to remain clean, which is why most businesses address all water quality issues voluntarily through Florida’s Best Management practices.

Water quality has improved since self-regulation began with the logging industry sustaining a 99 percent compliance rate. If the EPA decides to require CWA permits on logging roads it will throw a wrench into a 35-year history of a successful, safe and functional regulatory system. Why try to add regulations to a safe and successful process?

If the Supreme Court rules to allow the EPA to over-regulate logging roads the Gainesville Regional Utilities million-ton wood-burning power plant project will be directly affected. Every road leading to the plant would require CWA permits and the potential for the EPA to conduct intermittent permit inspections, shutting down transport at any given time.

Part of the cost for obtaining the wood includes transport, so CWA permits on these roads would increase the transportation cost, which would increase the cost of obtaining the wood and ultimately increase utilities for Alachua County residents.

As it stands, this cost increase would be unnecessary and during a time where Florida and the country are not financially sound.

Business owners in Florida are working hard to sustain their companies and keep people employed during this down economy. It is impossible to rationalize the EPA or any federal agency that adds unnecessary regulations that are costly, duplicative and often times ridiculous to comply with.

We need incentives to keep Florida climbing out of this debt, and over-regulation would significantly stifle the potential to recover.

As a Florida representative for the American Logging Council, a small business owner and concerned citizen, I joined the Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations Coalition to help increase awareness and fight over-regulation. Learn more about the coalition and take action:

Richard Schwab is a Florida Board Member of the American Loggers Council.

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