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The Michigan Forest Products Council says Flip-Flop on Executive Order 03 Hurts Michigan
Lansing, Michigan, USA, 28 March 2007 -- /PRNewswire/ -- The Michigan Forest Products Council strongly urges the House to reject the governor's Executive Order 2007-03 and the Senate negative appropriations bill, SB 220. The House Committee on Appropriations has posted hearings for this week to review the matter.

Among the USD 900 million in budget casualties approved last week was a cut that effectively killed investment in jobs related to Michigan's promising forest products and bio-economy. After the governor's USD 20 million reduction, Senate republicans singled out and zeroed the Authority's USD 26 million capitalization from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund.

"This action is like a screaming red neon sign that says Michigan is closed to business and closed to those thinking of investing in paper mills, sawmills, cellulosic ethanol or other bio-based sectors," said Kel Smyth, MFFA member and government and community affairs manager for NewPage Corporation.

The purpose of the Michigan Forest Finance Authority is to preserve existing jobs, create jobs, and alleviate and prevent unemployment through the development of forestry and forest industries clusters and to protect the health of the forest. According to the U.S. Forest Service, Michigan leads the nation in available surplus. Currently, Michigan's annual growth of forest is 2.7 times the amount harvested.

"The State has a tremendous opportunity to promote a stable and continuing supply for future economic expansion. We should seize this opportunity to be a national leader," said Smyth.

According to a Michigan State University report entitled "Bioproducts for Economic Expansion," a 50% increase in our use of available biomass would produce a multi-billion dollar impact on our economy. "From a social, environment, and economic standpoint, investing in this sector is the right thing to do for Michigan and the planet," added Smyth.

"We understand these are difficult budget times, but this course change is devastating, counter productive and penny wise but pound foolish," said George Berghorn, MFPC director of forest policy. "The cuts have a disproportionate and negative affect on the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan. It also appears the state is not serious about creating jobs, advancing the bio-economy or reducing greenhouse gas emissions," added Berghorn.

The governor and lawmakers hailed the USD 26 million investment last year citing it as a major step toward diversifying Michigan's ailing economy. The return on investment to the state is in the billions of dollars. "The move is a tragic misstep that will cost the state billions in new investment in emerging sectors: solid wood, cellulose-based manufacturing, bio-technology, bio-pharmaceutical, and energy," said Berghorn.

The Michigan Forest Products Council works to promote, protect, and sustain a globally competitive forest products industry in Michigan. The Michigan Forest Products Council is a statewide organization representing the forest products industry, which owns millions of acres of timberland and employs more than 154,000 men and women in Michigan.

Source: The Michigan Forest Products Council

Web site: http://www.michiganforest.com/

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