WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Steve Daines believes the U.S. should follow Canada's lead to increase timber harvesting as a way to cut fire danger and boost affordable housing.

Daines made the observations Tuesday, as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hosted Canadian leaders for a discussion on the "energy and materials partnership" between the two countries.

While much of the hearing focused on the Keystone XL pipeline cancelation, Daines also noted what he sees as the drop in Montana timber production, including closure of the mill in St. Regis last year. Daines said that lack of timber helped add $20,000 to the price of an average home last year.

"Despite this, Montana lumber production is actually decreased by 11% and we just had another mill close," Daines said. "With over 30 active sawmills, we're down now to one can count on one hand and one finger." 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny said Alberta has been harvesting more timber, in large part because the province has direct control over cutting.

"That we've seen actually the exact opposite of your experience. A 30% increase in harvesting since 2011, a $6 billion increase in investment in our forestry industry. Last year was the best year in terms of volume of fiber and revenue for the industry."

Kenny also told the senators the Biden administration's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline could have a chilling effect on future energy investments involving the two countries.