Burns Lake council wants the province to stop allowing northern B.C.’s raw logs to be shipped to other countries.
In a letter to the Ministry of Forests, council urged the province to “reconsider allowing log exports out of Stewart.”
“Instead of shipping logs offshore to be processed, the logs could be sent to local mills, maintaining employment and milling capacity in the region,” stated the letter dated Nov. 15.
Burns Lake Mayor Dolores Funk told Lakes District News the issue of raw log exports is one that affects the forest products industry as a whole.
“Raw log export weakens our ability to benefit our economy through the manufacturing of value-added products,” said Funk. “As a community that relies heavily on the forest industry, we are concerned that this practice still continues.”
Dawn Makarowski, a ministry spokesperson, said allowing some exports from remote areas of the province allows fibre that would otherwise be too expensive to access to be harvested, in turn providing employment in the harvesting, transportation and support industries.
But Makarowski said it is the government’s objective is to see more logs processed in British Columbia.
The Coast Forest Sector Revitalization initiative, announced in January 2019, aims to increase the processing of B.C. logs within the province while reducing residual waste fibre left in the woods by redirecting it to B.C. pulp and paper mills. A similar review is underway for the Interior.
Funk said raw log exports stunt the industry’s ability to create new markets.
“We know that as the quality and quantity of our logs dwindles, we must evolve our industry to ensure that raw logs are no longer exported and that we gain as much economic benefit as possible from each harvested tree,” said Funk.
In 2018, 67.4 million cubic metres of logs were harvested in B.C. Exports of 5.1 million cubic metres (7.6 per cent of harvest), mostly from coastal areas, were worth $740 million.
The U.S., China, and Japan are the top three export markets for the B.C. forest sector.
The forest products industry in the Burns Lake area has been facing other challenges, including a reduction in annual allowable cut (AAC).
Hampton Lumber, which owns Decker Lake and Babine Forest Products, has been working to find a solution to continue operating at full capacity after the region’s AAC was reduced by 41 per cent in November.
Oil Drops After Warnings on US Economy and Global Crude Demand – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Oil dropped toward $39 a barrel in Asian trading — even after a decline in American crude and fuel stockpiles — following warnings over global energy demand and the state of the U.S. economy.
Futures in New York fell 1.4% after rising for a second day on Wednesday. Federal Reserve officials stressed that more fiscal stimulus is critical to sustain the U.S. economic recovery, while the head of commodities trader Mercuria Energy Group said that global oil markets won’t be able to absorb OPEC+ production increases as demand remains weaker than expected.
That was after the market found support on Wednesday from Energy Information Administration data showing U.S. distillates inventories fell the most since March, while crude inventories dropped for a second week.
After trading above $43 a barrel in late August, oil has lurched lower this month amid signs a resurgence in the coronavirus could lead to more lockdown measures. The OPEC+ alliance, meanwhile, is slowly tapering its production cuts and Libya is unleashing fresh supply as its civil war abates.
See also: Return of Libya’s Oil Is a New Headache for Markets
“The warning from Fed officials certainly weighed on U.S. equities and took oil lower with it,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank NV. Economic uncertainty and the recent pickup in Covid-19 cases will keep oil from moving too much higher in the next two weeks and it’s likely to remain in a fairly narrow range, he said.
Brent’s three-month timespread was steady at $1.26 a barrel in contango — where prompt contracts are cheaper than later-dated ones — compared with $1.37 at the beginning of the week. The market structure indicates that while there’s still concern about over-supply, it’s eased a bit.
Oil stockpiles have been building in September and won’t draw down enough in the remainder of the year to be in balance if OPEC+ follows through with its plan to taper production cuts early next year, Mercuria Chief Executive Marco Dunand said in an interview. Democrats and Republicans, meanwhile, have been at loggerheads over another virus relief package, with no formal negotiations since early August, even as Fed officials call for more fiscal support.
U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 0.3% to 494.4 million barrels in the week through Sept. 18 and distillates inventories dropped 1.9% to 175.9 million barrels, the EIA data showed. U.S. oil producers say they’re still prioritizing keeping output flat over reducing debt, according to the latest energy survey published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Quebec tables revamped bill to fast-track infrastructure projects and reboot economy – Global News
Quebec treasury board president Sonia Lebel tabled a new bill on Wednesday to speed up certain infrastructure projects and reboot the economy.
As the province faces a second wave of the novel coronavirus, Lebel said fighting the virus and strengthening the economy are top priorities for the Quebec government.
“Last spring we were forced to put Quebec on pause,” Lebel said, adding the acceleration of infrastructure projects is a key part of government’s plan to get the economy back on track.
Lebel explained that the gradual and careful resumption of activities wasn’t enough by itself to offset the negative impacts the health crisis.
Bill 66 replaces Bill 61, known as an “Act to restart Quebec’s economy and to mitigate the consequences of the public health emergency”, which was heavily criticized after in was tabled in early June by then-treasury board president Christian Dubé.
Opposition parties at the National Assembly raised several concerns at the time, saying Bill 61 could leave the province vulnerable to corruption and collusion since it would allow some projects to be sped up without all the checks and balances in place.
Quebec’s Bill 61 sent back to the drawing board
Lebel said she heard the critics and the the most controversial aspects of Bill 61 were abandoned in the revamped bill.
“It is possible to speed up the start of projects without compromising on integrity without compromising on the environment,” she said.
Among other things, the government is abandoning the idea of bypassing the law on public contracts.
“We are not touching in any way whatsoever the law on public contracts, this is not a process we are accelerating,” Lebel said.
The government is also dropping the idea of extending the state of health emergency indefinitely.
Under a state of emergency, the government has extraordinary powers. The law suspends many civil rights and normally a government is only able to enact it 10 days at a time.
Lebel also said the new bill addresses environmental concerns raised by environmental groups and that processes and safeguards are well defined.
Projects with moderate to low environmental risks will be allowed to go ahead with construction and provide environmental assessments once work is underway.
Lebel explained that environmental protocols are already known for many of the projects and environmental laws and standards will be respected.
“We can anticipate what the problems will be,” she said. “We know whether there is a wetland or not… we know how to protect it or rebuild it, if necessary, if we have to damage it.”
She also said the environment ministry would be supervising the projects and that the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) would — except for two projects — maintain its role of informing and consulting with citizens, carrying out environmental investigations and providing recommendations to inform government decisions.
The two projects include the revamping of Highway 117 between Labelle and Rivière Rouge, and the widening of Highway 30 between Brossard and Boucherville.
“Highway 117 is one of the deadliest roads in Quebec,” Lebel said, “The work is is necessary, expected and requested,”
As for Highway 30, widening the road would allow for an express bus route and is part of wider plans to improve traffic congestion within the wider Montreal metropolitan area.
By bypassing the BAPE, it will allow to speed up the completion of the projects by 20 months, Lebel said, adding that they will be subject to all other environmental laws and requirements.
Initially, the province wanted to fast-track 202 infrastructure projects — including the construction of schools, seniors’ homes, roads and public transit systems.
Under Bill 66, however, that list has been whittled down to 181 projects.
“It’s a closed list,” Lebel said, meaning projects not included under the proposed legislation will have to follow regular procedures.
Bill 66 will be studied in committee this fall.
— With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and Kalina Laframboise
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Dollar shines as virus, economy woes hit risk assets – TheChronicleHerald.ca
By Stanley White
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar extended gains against most currencies on Thursday as signs of economic slowdown in Europe and the United States renewed concern about a second wave of coronavirus infections.
The euro, which has already taken a hit due to worries about a return to severe lockdown restrictions, faces an additional hurdle later on Thursday with the release of data on German business sentiment.
The dollar is likely to continue to rise as another spike in coronavirus cases and the Federal Reserve’s warnings that the U.S. economy needs more fiscal stimulus cause investors to repatriate funds from riskier assets.
“Risk is being sold across the board, and there is a big unwinding of dollar shorts,” said Yukio Ishizuki, foreign exchange strategist at Daiwa Securities.
“Questions surrounding the coronavirus and the need for even more stimulus are turning flows back to the dollar.”
The dollar traded at $1.1658 per euro on Thursday in Asia, just shy of a two-month low high reached on Wednesday.
The pound bought $1.2714, near its weakest level since late July.
The dollar was quoted at 0.9240 Swiss franc , which is near a nine-week high.
The U.S. currency bought 105.40 yen , holding onto a 0.4% gain from the previous session.
The dollar has rallied this week as rising coronavirus infections in Europe and Britain undermined investor optimism about vaccine progress.
The Ifo survey due later on Thursday is forecast to show an improvement in business morale in Germany, Europe’s largest economy.
However, sentiment for the euro has already suffered a big blow after surveys released on Wednesday showed new restrictions to quell a resurgence in coronavirus infections slammed the euro zone’s services industry into reverse.
The mood for riskier assets has also soured after data on Wednesday showed U.S. business activity slowed in September and several Fed policymakers warned that further government aid is needed to bolster the economy.
The dollar index =USD>, which pits the dollar against a basket of six major currencies, stood at 94.336 on Thursday, close to a nine-week high.
There are no major economic data releases scheduled during the Asian session, so trading could be subdued, analysts said.
Some investors are watching the Australian and New Zealand dollars, which have come under pressure due to growing expectations for additional monetary easing.
A recent decline in commodity prices is expected to increase downside risks for the Antipodean currencies, some traders say.
The Aussie traded at $0.7069, near its weakest since July 21.
Across the Tasman Sea, the kiwi bought $0.6549 after tumbling by 1.3% in the previous session.
(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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