Tester forest act dead for 2011

Other interesting things are in the conference report, however, more later..

From Rob Chaney of the Missoulian

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act was not included in a House version of the 2012 omnibus bill to fund the federal government that was released Thursday morning, setting off a round of finger-pointing between his office and that of Rep. Denny Rehberg.

“Congressman Rehberg is now personally responsible for killing guaranteed Montana jobs,” Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy said Thursday. “That fact that Dennis Rehberg actively worked against a popular, bipartisan, made-in-Montana jobs bill simply because Jon’s name is on it shows his true colors: Congressman Rehberg is not looking out for Montana; he is only interested in his own political career.”

Rehberg spokesman Jed Link countered that Tester’s bill lacked support among his own Senate colleagues. While Tester was able to attach his bill to the original Senate version of the Interior Department budget, the conference committee didn’t include it in the combined version.

“Senator Tester’s wilderness bill simply isn’t good for Montana and that’s why Denny worked to keep it out of the Interior appropriations bill,” Link said. “New wilderness areas are guaranteed in the Tester bill but new jobs are not. In the long run, this bill will mean less public access to our lands and fewer jobs. And that’s just not a fair deal for Montanans.”

Republican Rehberg is challenging Democrat Tester for the Senate seat in next year’s election.

Republican members of the conference committee had signed off on the nine-department, 1,209-page budget bill earlier this week. But Democrats withheld their signatures in a complicated bargaining maneuver aimed at blocking some Republican riders in the last-minute legislation rush.

That included opposition to the linkage of Keystone XL petroleum pipeline approval to an extension of a payroll tax cut authored by Rehberg. President Barack Obama had postponed the pipeline decision until after the election, citing concerns about its potential impact on a major Midwest aquifer. And he threatened to veto the tax bill if Republicans tried to fast-track the pipeline permit in the same legislation.

Late on Wednesday night, House Republicans released the conference budget deal without the Democrats’ signatures, although it contains the deals worked out by both sides. That version of the Interior budget left out both Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and a proposed new national park in Rhode Island, as well as 117 policy riders proposed by House Republicans, according to Tester’s office.

“Some fixes need still to be made, but that certainly dims prospects for the Tester language to be included,” said Alan Rowsome, conservation funding director for The Wilderness Society, who’s been monitoring the budget process from Washington, D.C. “It likely would not be in this scenario, unless there’s a real reopening of the bill.”

The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act would have designated about 1 million acres of new wilderness and national recreation areas. It would also impose a timber treatment mandate on three national forests in Montana.

The bill was supported by a coalition of conservation groups, sawmill owners, environmentalists and timber industry representatives. It drew opposition from environmentalists opposed to mandated logging, as well as off-road vehicle, ranching and mining organizations.

The Interior budget does include some new policy measures. They include a move supported by both Rehberg and Tester to give a greater accounting of money paid through the Equal Access to Justice Act, which pays the legal fees of people who successfully sue the government. The bill also has a provision blocking the federal Bureau of Land Management from designating any new wilderness areas, increases funding for oil and gas production, and rejects new fees for onshore oil and gas producers.

It would add $1 million to a wolf/livestock loss demonstration program and $2 million for wolf monitoring in Montana and Idaho. It removes a requirement to separate domestic sheep from wild bighorn sheep herds. And it restores $14 million for payments in lieu of taxes from national wildlife refuges to county governments.

In the U.S. Forest Service arena, the proposed budget provides a full $40 million for the Cooperative Forest Landscape Restoration Project that includes Montana logging projects, $52.6 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund that pays for conservation easements on wildlife habitat, and $45 million for removal of legacy roads and trails.

Murphy said a slim possibility remained that further negotiations could resurrect the Montana bill’s chances in December. The bill also remains on the docket of Senate business for the coming year.

“I’m not saying it’s likely, but it’s not final yet,” Murphy said.

14 Comments

  1. A few random posts: first the US Forest Service does have a support foundation akin to the NPCA, it is the National Forest Foundation. http://www.nationalforests.org/ Similarly, the USFWS has a support organization, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation http://www.nfwf.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home. The BLM does not have a similar bureau-wide foundation, although the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System does have a newly formed foundation http://conservationlands.org/
    Link to a new GAO Letter Report issued today on lesson learned for wildland firefighting from the Station fire. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-155
    Enjoy this blog.

    • If I were Chief, I’d trade the NPCA for NFF any day of the week. Congress created NFF to raise corporate dollars for the Forest Service. NFF is not a grassroots NGO. NFF has no members; it has corporate donors. In contrast, NPCA is a grassroots, membership organization. It has a real constituency. And that constituency, of real voters, gives NPCA clout on the Hill. If I were in charge of a federal agency, I’d want real people, not corporate facsimiles, on my side.

      • If I were in charge of a federal agency, I’d ban any and all uses of nicknames and acronyms in spoken and written language. I’m tempted to sign this “LOL,” but I won’t. (Does anyone in state or federal bureaucracies understand why church services were only performed in Latin through most of Europe in the Middle Ages?)

          • Not just Andy, although he’s the one I picked on. Try substituting “XXX” for “Chief” and for each of the acronyms he uses and then try to make sense of what he has written. Same with a large share of the forest plans or “scientific” studies done by agency personnel. That’s what the average non-agency citizen is looking at these days and for the past few decades. Obfuscation via secret code lingo.

            Haven’t looked at the “Plain Writing Act of 2010,” but if it doesn’t have any acronyms in it I’m a supporter. (I’m teasing a little about this, but it is a deadly serious topic. Insider trading and insider negotiations.)

            Want to know one reason why the average citizen could care less about our forests and forests resources? They’ve been excluded from the conversation by government DOS-speakers.

      • Andy- I don’t remember exactly what went on when NFF was created, but right now it appears that you could be a member.. here’s the membership page. In fact, that makes me think of possible Winter Solstice gifts for NCFP bloggers; for you, perhaps a membership in NFF? ;)

        I do see your point, although, what makes a “grassroots” organization? From our previous discussion here.

        NPCA was established in 1919, just three years after the National Park Service. Stephen Mather, the first director of the Park Service, was one of our founders. He felt very strongly that the national parks would need an independent voice—outside the political system—to ensure these places remained unimpaired for future generations. Now, nearly one hundred years later, NPCA has more than 600,000 members and supporters.

        Is it not about who developed it, but the number of supporters? Just asking. Because we could decide on this blog to get our friends (err.. not federal employees, of course!) to go lobby for some generally agreeable FS programs, and it would be grassroots by my definition, but not a large number.

        I wish we had one or more virtual NCFP interns (or it could be a grad student project?) who could do a comparison of these groups. I picture a table comparing things like:

        * Congressionally established or not
        * Sources of funding
        * How funding is spent (lobbying, education, on-the-ground projects)
        * Composition of governing boards
        * Number of members and any info available on them
        * How much it costs to become a member

        And it would be interesting to compare other differences and similarities.

        Finally, I used the example of “what if some kinds of research had lobbyists and others didn’t”. That’s actually true. For example the DOE contractors the National Labs lobby for DOE’s budget (I went on a tour of the National Ignition Facility where a poster showed the congressional districts of all the subcontractors- eye-opening to say the least).

  2. Non-governmental organizations that rely upon one or only a few sources of funding rarely develop a grassroots constituency. Some don’t even try. I remember when the Pew Charitable Trusts decided it could do a better job of public policy advocacy than the independent groups it had been funding. Pew created the Heritage Forests Campaign, Pew Center for People and the Press, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining, and several dozen more. None has created an influential grassroots constituency. None has moved the public policy needle discernibly.

    National Forest Foundation is like these Pew-created babies. NFF gets most of its money from one source — Congress. It gets the balance from Fortune 500 companies looking for a little green washing or some p.r. association with the Forest Service brand (e.g., Coleman). Can NFF put several thousand constituent letters/calls into congressional desks within two weeks? Not a chance. Can FSEEE (that’s “Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics” for acronym-challenged readers)? You bet.

    Real live constituents still trump money and access in politics.

  3. Sharon says: ” I don’t remember exactly what went on when NFF was created,”

    Here’s what “went on”:

    At the same time (1992) Congress was systematically defunding the USFS and the US Fish and Wildlife Service budgets, it was establishing the National Forest Foundation (NFF), and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundations.

    Congress understood perfectly well, it was creating agency budget shortfalls leaving important work on public lands festering into future disasters (like fire suppression tactics and failures to fund thinning projects, and otherwise precluding the elimination of fine fuels in the understories of the Western public forests). This helped create the annual conflagrations we now see in the public forests of the American west.

    Why? In order to advance the neoliberal project and for the creation of future profiteering opportunities to capitalize upon. This is the mechanism described in Naomi Kline’s, “Disaster Capitalism”. Now, the USFS has the world’s largest firefighting budget, but has to resort to corporate outsourcing to accomplish basic “stewardship” functions.

    While the NFF is a nonprofit, it was expressly designated to facilitate the solicitation of private funding sources to make up for the budget shortfalls Congress was creating. This led to an increase in the privatization of public resource management.

    The same budget knife was applied to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and resulted in the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
    ( http://www.nfwf.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Partners/CorporatePartners/default.htm )

    “Why do corporations choose to partner with NFWF?”

    *”Maximize return on investments and increase conservation impact through leverage (NFWF typically matches contributions 3:1)”
    *Increase branding and visibility
    *Improve competitiveness in the marketplace

    (This is what Sharon is referring to when she says we need to “incentivize”– not a free marketeer herself, but really likes their marketing terms, their approaches, and their methods,– especially “collaboration”: says Sharon, “I think it’s a good idea to foster collaborative approaches. I think it would be good to incentivize that and de-incentivize litigation as a tool for pursuing agendas.”)

    Who are the NFW Foundation corporate partners and what is their agenda? Guess.

    The list reads from the “Neoliberal Who’s Who, in multi-national criminal environmental recidivists and human rights violators:

    ExxonMobil (Exxon Valdez second largest oil spill in America)
    Chevron (Criminal conspiracy, Tax evasion, Niger Delta shootings, etc.)
    ConocoPhillips (Alberta Tar Sands Largest environmental disaster on the planet)
    Shell Oil (responsible for the” worlds biggest oil spill” in Niger)
    BP (Producer of Americas Largest Oil Spill)

    So when BP was at the center of the America’s biggest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as a corporate “partner” of NFWF it was then already doing good things for the environment it was destroying.

    The USFS and the USFWS, are charged with managing the commons and acting in the best interests of all present and future generations of Americans. But that can’t happen if they aren’t adequately funded as regulators and managers. While Congress was cutting these agency budgets, it established the National Forest Foundation,and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation pursuing the neoliberal agenda of privatization, deregulation of environmental laws and corporate outsourcing of agency functions.

    There is an irreconcilable difference between agencies obliged to act in the best interests of “We the People” and corporate “partners” obligated to act in the best interests of shareholders.

    This neoliberal agenda escapes Sharon’s concerns, but when the public takes their government to court for failing to abide by environmental law, it is described as “warfare”.

  4. David, I am all for getting more funding for regulators, in fact I would add to my wish list more money for funding enforcement of OHV, grazing and minerals regulations. So we agree on that. What if we each (not feds, of course) visited our congresspeople’s offices and asked for our “big three” budget items?

    Perhaps we don’t need an organization as much as a coalition of organizations.

    And just so you know, my use of the terms “incentivize” by which I mean reward positive behavior, and “collaborate” by which I mean work with other people of varying interests, reflect approaches of community building which have been in practice since people have lived in communities. A tax deduction for charitable contributions is an incentive with the intent to foster charitable behavior. I see nothing particularly neoliberal about these concepts..

  5. Sharon,
    if all this “collaboration” talk, weren’t a carefully constructed and easily tracked ruse stemming, officially, from Project 88, I’d be open to glib invocations of happy face outcomes which, in your words,
    “reflect approaches of community building which have been in practice since people have lived in communities.”
    But frankly, the pockmarked history of the destruction of community at the hands of our corporate “partners”, and the real meaning of collaboration, defies these quaint invocations.

    The true meaning of collaboration necessitates all parties involved share fundamental value systems and beliefs. Otherwise, the NFF/Moore/ Hewlett/ (and others)/USFS cabal provides little but a theater for rachetting power one-way, in the direction of neoliberal objectives.

    The same neoliberal objectives which are stymied by these personal irritations you consistently raise with law and the rights of citizens to redress grievances with their governments’ failures to abide. In that sense, you are a bonafide collaborator soliciting others to “collaborate” by deregulating, by buying-into corporate outsourcing, and by ignoring urgent matters such as anthropogenic induced climate change, the present mass-extinction event we are in the midst of, etc. (I am encouraged that you speak to the role of regulation, but…)

    That you would openly advocate abandoning those constitutional rights for a chance to audition for a “stakeholder” seat at the table of devolution, provided by the philanthropic largess of corporate power intending to manufacture a narrowly arranged consensus, speaks volumes for your allegiances, and what our most crucial problems actually are.

    Those allegiances, as I’ve pointed out, are at odds with the true meaning of collaboration: shareholders have different objectives (at the cost of community), from citizen taxpayers hoping the role of government actually regulates predatory, community-destroying corporate profiteering.

    • Ahhhh, yes!!! The ever-present “you’re either with us or against us” stance of the non-collaborators!! Fight the evil “C-words”!!

      Another prediction: Some groups will publicly boycott collaborative meetings and actions, saying that the process is “fixed”. Oops!! Is my prediction too late, already?!?!?

      • Boycott? I prefer conscientious objection.

        Read the fine print of collaboration Larry.
        It boils down to a “pay to play” game under false pretenses.
        It is using the pretense of democratic representation, except there are no elections for the collaborator “Deciders”. Sound fair to you? Then you’ll just love what’s in store for Amerika when its public lands — become the store. That’s after all, the whole point of collaboration– to turn public lands into one Big Mall.

        The way to this is Devolution of public process — collaborators embrace the conviction that what’s good for them, as financially conflicted “stakeholders”, must surely be good for all present and future generations of Americans!

        Got a problem with laws of the land? Collaborate to find end-runs around the Rule of Law!

        Quid pro quo (Latin, “this for that”) outcomes become the New Rule. Like the rules of Congressional campaign finance in Amerika, and the corporate-friendly legislation that results.
        Sound fair to you?

        As if there weren’t enough lobbyists working diligently on their behalf, foundation trustees throw collaboration parties with green NGO staffers who get “greener” by being reduced to lobbyists.

        This dynamic of fiduciary obligation is at the heart of Sharon’s fatally flawed premise– that community interests = corporate interests. They don’t because they can’t.

        Sharon’s solicitations of support for collaboration here are couched in the false premise and false promises of the long disproven “trickle-down” theory of economics. Turns out what’s good for big business is not necessarily good for America, her communities, or her middle class. Look at the Dow Jones Avg. in this protracted recession. Looks like business as usual on Wall Street, (except those pesky little people calling themselves “Occupiers” which arrived after millions of Americans lost their homes, their jobs outsourced, and their pensions looted.)

        The belief was that CEO’s from Goldman Sachs and elsewhere wouldn’t screw their own investors. Turns out they will if they can.

        Even Alan Greenspan admitted this.

        What makes you think collaborators won’t also do this to present and future generations of Americans? The fact is, they will if they can.

  6. David- I never said that “community interests equal corporate interests.” I don’t even think local environmental interests always equal national environmental interests.

    I used collaboration in the sense here in Wikipedia:

    Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal.[1] It is a recursive[2] process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective) — for example, an intriguing endeavor[3][4] that is creative in nature[5]—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group.[6] In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.[7].

    It sounds like you think that collaboration on FS projects for some reason does not meet this definition. Also, to me collaboratively developed might mean a tiny little fuels treatment project or the 4 FRI or the Planning Rule: seems to me that these all might be different and would be hard to argue that they are all similarly interested in end runs around the “law.”

    Do you have a specific collaborative effort in mind when you raise these issues?

    • Sharon, said,’”I never said that “community interests equal corporate interests.” I don’t even think local environmental interests always equal national environmental interests.’ (I agree.)

      But Sharon, (fortunately),
      you don’t get to decide whether local environmental interests equal national environmental interests as they matter with NEPA and NFMA– that’s called “public process” which is typically eliminated in the exclusive “stakeholder” groups of “collaboration”.

      You don’t get to disqualify the rights of these organizations’ and individuals’ redress of grievances — that’s called “due process”, which fellow collaborationists are also on record decrying.

      And you don’t, as a federal employee, get to circumvent bedrock environmental law (while on the job at least) like NFMA, FACA, ESA and NEPA, without being taken to court.

      But, you DO get to “collaborate” as a federal employee, with powerful multinational corporations who share those antipathies for environmental law to the extent they fund collaboration with specific agendas and mechanisms which undermine those principles and laws. And that invokes the definition of collaboration you’ve omitted.

      At a certain point, one must consider that, other, negative definition of collaboration here.

      Are multinational corporations at the center of much of the problems of the planet, and also funding “collaboration”? You bet they are. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has invested several millions of dollars in “collaboration” as have the Hewlett Foundation and others. Might Moore’s Foundation portfolio be invested in corporations at the center of the problems of the planet? You bet they are. Is the NFF at the center of collaboration roundtables relying upon multi-national corporate “partners”? You bet they are. Might they mutually benefit from collaboration outcomes which allow profit from treating symptoms, but fail to address the CAUSES of environmental problems? Count on it.

      Chances are, billionaire Gordon Moore of Intel Corporation may even know NFF’s Vice Chairman, Craig Barrett, who recently (’09) stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Intel.

      (There are so many facets of perspective to make these points with, that in addition to my previous angles of perspective, I’ll be glad to continue to rotate this dark gem in the light…)

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      (David says), Sharon, I never said you did. I say again:
      “This dynamic of fiduciary obligation is at the heart of Sharon’s fatally flawed premise– that community interests = corporate interests. They don’t because they can’t.”

      I have demonstrated through examples in the preceding posts why community interests do not equal corporate interests. These elements are at the center of collaboration and cannot be ignored, notwithstanding how your (partial) definition of collaboration might be defended.

      So, despite the fact that a case for (a narrowly defined concept of) collaboration can be made, community interests, along with the interests of future generations of Americans have always been the prey, and corporate interests the predator, at the heart of these “collaboration” fora. Take FJRA as a product of Beaverhead-Deerlodge, or on the Tongass, S.730, pushed at the Tongass Futures Roundtable, which would privatize 85,000 acres of public

      You bet they are, and this should matter.

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