The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to stop charging taxpayers millions of dollars to subsidize the environmentally damaging, money losing logging projects in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
With a 237 to 181 vote, the House approved an amendment to the Interior-EPA Appropriations Bill that bars construction of taxpayer-subsidized logging roads in the Tongass, the crown jewel of our National Forest System. The amendment, offered by Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Rob Andrews (D-NJ), blocks the use of federal funds for building roads used only for commercial logging.
“We’re delighted that the House voted to end this outrageous subsidy. For decades, taxpayers have been footing the multi-million dollar bill for logging in the Tongass,” said Marty Hayden, Earthjustice legislative director. “It’s time to stop charging taxpayers for the privilege of letting the timber industry clear-cut old growth in America’s rainforest.”
Since 1982, the U.S. Forest Service has wasted $1 billion in taxpayer money — losing an average of $40 million a year — by subsidizing the Tongass timber program. One recent Tongass road project cost taxpayers $2.9 million, while the private company using the road to log paid just $107,000 to the U.S. Treasury for the trees it cut.
The Tongass contains the largest remaining tracts of old-growth temperate rainforest in the world. Unlike most national forests, it still contains many undisturbed watersheds with a full complement of native species, including bald eagles, wolves, brown bears, and five species of Pacific salmon. The pristine forest and clean waters attract hunters, fishermen, and tourists from around the world.