Cedar Legislation Filed Today: Morrissette Supporting Pro Business Incentives

(Oklahoma City, OK), A one hundred-twenty (120) page draft was filed this morning as HB2686 to create a complete cedar abatement infrastructure set, designed by its author to encourage the development of new Oklahoma Eastern Red Cedar businesses as well as to grandfather companies established within Oklahoma over the past ten (10) years.

“In drafting this initiative, I have listened to the experts and the land owners who have struggled to come up with effective control methods only to encounter financial obstacles in the form of limited state resources to address the level of need. I want to say that Oklahoma is blessed beyond measure with brilliant agency people and researchers connected to our universities. They are dedicated to the goal of conservation and enlightening our citizens to the importance of proper resource management. But, along with the entrepreneurial community, these agents have been ham-strung by a lack of state resources, in part, due to misplaced priorities. You can’t be spending 200 million annually on cedar wildfires, reclaiming grazing lands from cedars and wildlife cover and writing off the billions of gallons of fresh water consumed by ERC and then say to those willing to employ Prescribed Fire or to utilize ERC, “We’re out of capital!”. The only uniform ERC policy we’ve had -at the state level- is no policy…no workable policy. These trees are now gaining a foothold at a rate that simply outpaces program allocations.”

“We have an opportunity to franchise workable business solutions to offer Oklahomans interested in ERC manufacturing the incentive to get involved. To date there has been zero incentive to do so but that is where the ERC Initiative comes in. I am well known at the Capitol for opposing tax credits unless they are sensible and ultimately save the state money. Within my bill, there are tax credits, as well as provisions for continuity of purpose, revitalization and support in assisting interested Oklahomans with obtaining the funds they need to get started. By hosting meetings and sharing ideas and learning of the many ERC prototypes and existing business models, the word has spread and lenders are coming to me expressing interest in taking part.” Morrissette said.

Supports in the bill include the creation of a harvesters’ registry board and state tree census by which harvesting can be conducted uniformly, linking the many components of the process to reduce field-to-market costs. There is also a component to expand markets, particularly the fuel market, by setting renewable fuel standards for the use of ERC as a bio-fuel. The bill is considered to have a neutral fiscal impact as costs to implement will be shared through absorption of funds already committed to state agencies and the addition of a ‘check the box’ option on state tax forms together with the sale of ERC license plates and grant writing.

Products made from ERC include cedar oil which is a natural pesticide and preservative as well as construction and veneer quality lumber. Scrag cedar, which comprises 90% of Oklahoma’s cedar, is ground for mulch, oil field cover, fiberboard plywood and bio-fuel pellets that when burned in power plants and home heating units emit higher BTU than most conventional energy sources. Experts agree that ERC oil alone has many unmapped components with valuable potential.

“One area that I don’t think we have focused upon enough in looking at the ERC is air quality. Physicians treating those who are allergic to tree pollen can tell you that with the devastating levels of cedar encroachment we are experiencing now, Oklahomans are really suffering. Just think, if the state of Oklahoma, alone, would commit to purchase Made in Oklahoma mulch for all of its state buildings and facilities, we would be creating a market for small OK business men and women and helping to eliminate a major threat to our health and quality of life. Please urge your legislators to support this initiative.” Morrissette concluded.

Rep. Richard Morrissette serves the 92nd District and questions should be directed to his Capitol office (405) 557-7404. The Aromatic Cedar Association is hosting three (3) town hall meetings coming up: Jan. 19th – Stillwater – Meridian Vo-Tech, Jan. 26th –Woodward – High Plains Center and Feb. 2 Chickasha – First National Bank Community Room for the benefit of citizens wishing to express their opinions and/or learn more about opportunities.

Time for all of the meetings: 6:30-8:30 PM.