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Regulatory News Roundup: Canadian Official Discusses Trans-Border ISPM Regulation
Regulatory Roundup: Canadian official discusses plan to phase in ISPM-15 rule for wood packaging entering the U.S.
Date Posted: 7/1/2008
At the recent annual meeting of the Canadian pallet association, a Canadian government representative spoke on the anticipated removal of the ISPM-15 exemption for shipments of pallets and wood packaging between the United States and Canada. Under the original solid wood packaging laws, trans-border shipments had been exempt due to the contiguous nature of the forests. Concerned about the spread of pests, such as the emerald ash borer (EAB), the U.S. government has worked with Canadian officials to enact ISPM requirements for trans-border movements.
Jean-Luc Poupart, a Canadian government official, announced that a consultation document would be sent out to stakeholders in mid-June. It would include a proposed timeline for eliminating the exemption over the next few years.
According to Poupart, the proposal will likely involve Phase 1, a one-year adjustment period to begin Jan. 1, 2009. This would be followed by Phase 2, an informed compliance period, beginning Jan. 1, 2010. During Phase 2, violations would be reported to the violator, without penalties being imposed. Phase 3, commencing Jan. 1, 2011, would see full enforcement for all wood packaging, except dunnage. Dunnage would remain in an informed compliance position for an additional 8 months. Phase 4, effective Sept. 1, 2011, would see full enforcement of solid wood packaging and dunnage.
The U.S. Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service concluded that trans-border ISPM compliance is necessary to provide adequate protection from invasive species. U.S. officials and scientists are also considering a domestic requirement to harmonize regulations across state borders.
The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) continues to support both a domestic and trans-border ISPM requirement to harmonize regulations, stop the spread of pests, and take away a major selling point of alternative materials. Many large players continue to support these measures, seeing them as inevitable. Some smaller pallet and lumber companies are concerned that they will not be able to afford the cost to comply.
There were strongly conflicting views expressed at the Canadian association meeting about the impact of this change. Wayne Anderson of St. Boniface Pallet, the current CWPCA president, spoke against it.
Wayne questioned whether ISPM-15 requirements would help stop the spread of insects. He suggested using resources to better police incoming pallets from offshore rather than along the U.S. border. He predicted that the heat-treating requirement would put out of business small recyclers who could not afford heat chambers. “We will be spending a lot of money for very little benefit,” he said.
On the other hand, some members are in favour of terminating the exemption, seeing it as another extension of professionalism, and showing that the customer’s best interests are always at the forefront. The successful ISPM-15 program for international shipments was cited as an example of how the industry can take advantage of opportunities to better serve customers. Participants were reminded that there were similar predictions of doom and gloom when ISPM-15 was rolled out for international shipments, but they did not materialize.
The Canadians wanted any trans-border requirement to coincide with a U.S. domestic requirement. But it looks like the trans-border requirement is on the fast track in comparison with a domestic requirement.
Congress Keeps Offshore
Amid skyrocketing fuel prices, the U.S. House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee voted against legislation that would have lifted the ban on energy exploration in waters off U.S. shores. The amendment may come back up again as pressure mounts on Congress to act to relieve high gas prices.
Pennsylvania Congressman John Peterson sponsored the amendment to an Interior Department spending bill. Its goal was to increase access to abundant supplies of domestic energy. Environmental concerns sunk the bill even though supporters contend exploration can be done in such a way that environmental hazards can be limited.
Even though the forest products industry generates over 60% of its own energy from carbon-neutral biomass, purchased energy remains the third highest manufacturing cost. For some mills, the cost of energy has eclipsed employee compensation.
Based on assessments by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Minerals Management Service, 50% of undiscovered oil resources and 36% of undiscovered natural gas resources lie offshore.
OSHA to Launch
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is preparing for its annual site-specific targeted inspections that will focus on approximately 3,800 high-hazard worksites. Annually, a handful of pallet companies are included in this effort. If you have received a notice that your injury or illness rates are above the standard, you may receive a surprise OSHA visit.
This targeted program will initially cover about 3,800 individual worksites on the primary list that reported 11 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer for every 100 full-time employees (known as the DART rate). Others will also be targeted with random inspections. The key is to be prepared because you never know when OSHA will knock on your door.
Federal Government Mandates
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently designated E-Verify as the electronic employment eligibility verification system that all federal contractors must use to check the work authorization status of new hires. This requirement comes as part of President Bush’s internal efforts to crack down on illegal immigration even as an employee verification bill stalls in Congress.
Pallet, packaging and lumber companies that conduct business with federal agencies will have to follow the new requirements once they take effect later this year. President Bush recently amended Executive Order 12989, which spells out federal procurement standards.
E-Verify is a free Internet-based database that allows employers to confirm the legal status of new hires within seconds. It is operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in partnership with the Social Security Administration. E-Verify was formally known as Basic Pilot.
Not everyone is happy about the verification procedures. Some business groups and civil libertarians oppose the mandated use of E-Verify. Businesses are concerned that the system is flawed while civil rights groups believe its use could lead to discrimination and job losses by people who are misidentified as illegal workers.
DHS contends that E-Verify works well for the more than 69,000 employers currently using it. According to DHS, employers have run more than 4 million employment verification queries this year, and 99.5% of qualified employees are cleared automatically by the system.Page 1 Page 2