The American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) set January 5, 2012 as the date for its second hearing regarding the Southern Pine Inspection Board's proposal to lower load values and downgrade a large quantity of Southern pine. The hearing will provide a final opportunity for people to submit comments on the proposal before a decision is made on it.

"Parties should be mindful that the proposed changes are significant and should take steps they deem appropriate in the interim," ALCS president Tom Searles said.

The proposal was met by outcry from both the construction and building material supply industries. The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association said the proposal features no phase-in period and could lower the value of inventories overnight.

Another fear is that the changes could affect the amount of materials required for jobs, thus increasing project price tags. Higher costs could lead to delays or decisions to scrap certain projects, hurting both dealers and builders during a time when there are few projects being started and completed.