The U.S. should set its sights on halting the increase in greenhouse gas emissions on a worldwide basis, said Boise Cascade chief executive officer Tom Stephens on March 27. He was in Washington to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality on a panel with representatives from environmental organizations and a global investor.
Stephens said the U.S. must also focus on development and integration into our economy of new technologies that can help us conserve energy, rebalance our energy sources away from those that produce carbon, and sequester carbon back into the earth. He said, "Today, the U.S. is debating how to take a giant step in the right direction. And, as the world's economic and innovation leader, I believe it is the U.S.'s responsibility to take this step. I suggest that while Congress should enact rational, constructive and timely legislation, it should be very careful to avoid creating unintended results. Doing it right is much more important than doing it quickly."
Stephens used the five minutes allotted for his testimony to zoom in on some real-life people and communities that will be significantly influenced by the actions of Congress on this issue.
"Employees at our paper mill in St. Helens, Ore., are already fighting for our mill's survival because of the high cost of energy and raw materials in the Northwest,” he said. “In the center of the best place in the world to grow Douglas fir, the high cost of fiber and energy is threatening the existence of the mill. Our competition is no longer just the paper mill in the next town, but the new ones being built in places like China and Indonesia.
"We are not asking for a bailout of our St. Helens mill; we are just asking that Congress maintain a level playing field and not dig the hole deeper. If we can keep our market share and make paper in St. Helens rather than buying it from China, U.S. employees and customers will be better off – and so will the environment. It's a win-win.”
Stephens added: "There are several other major issues related to climate change legislation concerning our operations that I don't have enough allocated time to outline today. But in another forum, I would like to expand on the mass confusion that exists around forest management and climate change. Suffice it to say that every year, forest fires in Oregon produce enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, in some years as much as all other sources combined. Letting federal forests burn, not letting industry salvage dead trees, and then not providing funding to replant the forest to create carbon stores, is just plain dumb."
On March 26, Boise announced that it will reduce from a 2004 baseline its total greenhouse gas emissions an additional 10 percent by 2014. The company will reach this goal through energy conservation programs, by converting from fossil fuels to renewable biomass fuels, and by exploring combined heat and power (cogeneration) opportunities. In the five years prior to the 2004 baseline, Boise reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent. Boise set this new goal in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders Partnership.
Boise, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, manufactures engineered wood products, plywood, lumber and particleboard and distributes a broad line of building materials, including wood products manufactured by the company. Boise also manufactures a wide range of specialty and premium products, including imaging papers for the office and home and papers for pressure-sensitive applications, as well as printing and converting papers, containerboard and corrugated boxes, newsprint and market pulp.