|Statement and recommendations to the Governor's Chip Mill Advisory Committee|
by Ken Midkiff
Director, Missouri Sierra Club
While the "voluntary" practices and standards suggested or recommended in the Draft Report on Chip Mills might well be appropriate for smaller, locally-based logging operations, it is clear from past experiences with other national or international corporations that voluntary incentives work only to the extent that the profit motive is not impacted. If it is to the company's economic benefit to clearcut every tree in sight, the company will do so, as long as there are not enforceable conditions to the contrary.
It seems that this Draft Report never really gets to the heart of the matter: High Capacity Chip Mills are NOT small, sustainable logging operations anymore than Premium Standard Farms' hog operations are Old MacDonald's farm. Just as the Missouri Association of Counties, and others, are now recognizing that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations should be considered as "industry" and not "agriculture", so it must be recognized that Willamette and Canal Fibre are not "silvicultural" but are in fact "industrial operations".
Consequently, the first matter for the Committee should have been to define a High Capacity Chip Mill. If such a definition is in the Draft Report, I could not find it. While we all think we know what a High Capacity Chip Mill is, all of our thoughts and definitions might in reality be different. Without prescribing what the number should be, it seems that a board feet (or tons) per year threshhold would be the obvious bottom line of a definition.
That is Number One.
Once High Capacity Chip Mills are defined, the second step is to declare these operations as "Industrial", and to require that the facilities obtain individual, site-specific, point-source and stormwater NPDES permits for their operations, the same as any other industry.
The third step is to designate ALL facets of the operation as integral components. Just as the shafts and mines of Missouri's lead mining companies are considered part of the overall operation, just as the land application areas of CAFOs have conditions imposed as part of the NPDES permit awarded to the facility, so should "sourcing areas" for the High Capacity Chip Mills be considered as an integral part of the facility.
The fourth step is to require that all sourcing areas that are under "substantial operational control" of the High Capacity Chip Mill also be included in the NPDES permit. Just as contract poultry operations or leased land application areas require co-permitting with the parent company, so should logging operations under contract with the High Capacity Chip Mill.
The fifth step would be to clearly define what constitutes "substantial operational control". A contract with a logger would be the first and irrefutable criteria. Other considerations should be given to subcontractors and independent loggers that secure the raw product (ie trees).
|The sixth step would be to then impose strict conditions in the NPDES permits to prevent erosion from the sourcing sites. This prevention of erosion would be aimed at protecting waters of the State from sedimentation and siltation.|
Note that these recommendations would in no way impact local logging companies or landowners selling timber to such companies. What I have outlined would apply ONLY to High Capacity Chip Mills and their sourcing areas, including the sourcing areas under contract with others.
To review our recommendations:
Define High Capacity Chip Mills.
Designate High Capacity Chip Mills as "industrial facilities", and as such must obtain an NPDES permit in order to discharge to waters of the State
Designate sourcing areas as an integral component of the facility
Designate sourcing areas that are under "substantial operational control" of the High Capacity Chip Mill as part of the facility and require a co-permit for the contractor AND the Chip Mill company.
Define what constitutes substantial operational control.
Impose permit conditions that prevent erosion and protect the waters of the state.
An NPDES permit has enforceable conditions, allowing the MoDNR and the Attorney General to take actions to compel compliance with these permit conditions. While the Advisory Committee and the MoDOC can pile up "voluntary compliance" until the sun is blocked out, all that will be achieved is that those logging companies that are doing a good job will continue to do so, and the bad actors will go about their business: destroying the forest resources of the state and fouling our Ozark Streams.
We have been down this road before - and the forests and streams of the Ozarks Plateau are just now recovering. The issues of landowners rights is a red herring - no one is proposing to do anything that would take away any rights that accrue with the ownership of private property. What we are proposing is to put some strict and enforceable conditions on the international corporations that own, operate and control the high capacity chip mills and their sourcing operations.
Finally, it is noted that the USEPA is proposing to require NPDES permits of any logging operation within the watersheds of "impaired waterbodies" - streams on the 303(d) list. Our proposal does not go this far, but would only require NPDES permits for High Capacity Chip Mills.
For more information about chip mills and the Governor's Chip Mill Commision.