Here’s a link. Below is an excerpt.
The Forest Service helped its cause by finally releasing its rationale for picking the Montana company for the initial 300,000-acre contract.
– Pioneer would hire about 500 people,
– It could get started just seven to eight months after contracts were signed
– It would make a variety of products (furniture parts, molding, flooring mimicking hardwoods) that would be diversified enough to sell consistently during recessions.
– It would have the advantage of stable fuel costs in turning branches and fine matter into biofuel as proposed.
That didn’t convince Pascal Berlioux of AZFRP, who sent out a three-page single-spaced email on the day that administrative appeals were due listing the reasons he thought his company would be a better choice. Whether it was price, risk, technical expertise or marketability, Berlioux insisted his was the better proposal. Personally, he noted, he had put six years of his life into the project, and some of his fellow board members had put up their life savings.
But in the end, Berlioux did not appeal, saying the Forest Service had made a nebulous “best value” judgment that it was unlikely to overturn. For the forest’s sake and the health of its host communities, Berlioux did the right thing by not appealing, and we in northern Arizona owe him a big thanks.
That still doesn’t rule out possible legal appeals by the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and others with objections to the contract. Their main concerns appeared to be a fear that Pioneer would not be as collaborative a partner as AZFRP (it didn’t offer to pay for monitoring) and that it lacked relevant local experience. Also, its plan to convert biomass into cellulostic biodiesel fuel was untested, they said.
Those objections, however, amount to speculation. The reality is that both companies would have been good choices, but only one could win — there isn’t enough wood to support two wood processing mills over the next 20 to 30 years.
Each year of delay is another year that catastrophic crown fires could wipe out much of the forest resource and devastate local ecosystems. As it is, the Pioneer mill won’t be up and running for at least a year or more. There are no more legitimate excuses for delay, and we urge conservation groups to stay in the 4FRI process and see it through to a successful conclusion.
Note from Sharon: So what interested me was this statement: “The reality is that both companies would have been good choices, but only one could win — there isn’t enough wood to support two wood processing mills over the next 20 to 30 years.” Maybe not around Flag, but lots of other places there is. This seems to be one of the few places where there is more capacity than material.