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Senate Proposal Threatens to Roll Back Forest Safeguards and Authorize Harmful Logging Activities

The Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee is weighing a proposed bill which discounts NEPA and could have detrimental consequences to our nation’s forest system
The Tongass National Forest, Alaska

The Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Earleliason/iStock Photo
June 23, 2016
Washington, D.C. —

A Senate panel heard testimony today on a draft of the “Wildfire Budgeting, Response and Forest Management Act of 2016.” 

Below is a statement by Earthjustice’s Senior Legislative Counsel Rebecca Judd on the proposal:

“We have serious concerns with the Wildfire Budgeting, Response and Forest Management Act draft that was the theme of today’s hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Not only does the draft proposal fail to adequately fix the Forest Service’s fire budget, it contains a number of poison pill anti-environmental provisions that would authorize harmful logging activities across our entire National Forest System as well as Bureau of Land Management forest land.”

“The plan threatens to undermine essential safeguards that help protect sensitive roadless and old growth forest areas, including our nation’s crown jewel rainforest—the Tongass National Forest—while reducing public participation and analysis that is vital to the vetting of potentially damaging forest activities under the National Environmental Policy Act. The proposal also insulates certain agency decisions from meaningful judicial review, significantly reducing opportunities for citizen oversight of forest projects that affect communities’ interest in the enormous values and benefits that public forest land provides to the American people, including clean air and drinking water, outstanding recreational opportunities, and fish and wildlife habitat.”

“We urge the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to reject this harmful forest legislative proposal and instead support a clean fix to the Forest Service’s fire budget, one that does not tack on harmful poison pill provisions that promote ill-conceived logging by weakening critical environmental safeguards.”