Here’s some new information to consider regarding Rep Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep Steve Daines (R-MT) mandated logging bill, the so-called “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act” (HR 1526), which passed the US House on September 20.
In Montana, it’s estimated that Rep Daines’ mandated logging bill would result in a 6 fold increase in National Forest logging across the state. However, the logging mandates contained in Daines’ bill would impact each National Forest differently. As such, it’s estimated that Daines’ bill would result in:
• 300 X’s more logging on the Helena National Forest;
• 150 X’s more logging on the Lewis and Clark National Forest;
• 30 X’s more logging on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest;
• 13 X’s more logging on the Lolo National Forest;
• 7 X’s more logging on the Gallatin National Forest;
• 6 X’s more logging on the Kootenai National Forest; and
• 4 X’s more logging on the Flathead National Forest.
(Note: Compared with 2012 National Forest timber sale volumes)
These dramatic increases in logging would be achieved by undermining America’s public lands legacy by simply having members of Congress mandate dramatic increases in industrial logging by exempting all National Forest logging sales up to 15.6 square miles in size from public input, environmental analysis and gutting the Endangered Species Act.
Rep Daines’ “Logging Without Laws” bill also has the US Congress simply closing the US Federal Court House doors, forbidding any citizen lawsuits on certain types of industrial logging projects, which is inherently undemocratic. Daines’ bill applies to all of America’s 155 National Forests, not just those National Forests in Montana.
New information also reveals that, contrary to claims by Rep Hastings and Rep Daines, rural counties throughout America would get less money for roads and schools under the Hastings/Daines mandated logging bill than what they current receive through Secure Rural Schools funding.
While Rep Daines, Senator Tester (D-MT) and the timber industry claim “gridlock” prevents National Forest logging, between 2008 and 2012 the US Forest Service sold enough logging sales in Montana and North Idaho to fill over 239,000 logging trucks, which if lined up end-to-end, would stretch for 2,048 miles.
Certainly it doesn’t help the political situation that Sen Tester, Sen Baucus and groups like the Montana Wilderness Association, National Wildlife Federation and Montana Trout Unlimited also support politicians mandating huge logging increases of our National Forests through Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA). Make no mistake, both the Daines and Tester bill would be an extreme and radical departure from over 100 years of America’s public lands legacy.Remember, Montanans have been bombarded since 2009 with a million dollar plus advertising and public relations campaign supporting Tester’s mandated logging bill paid for largely by the out-of-state Pew Foundation.
According to official tax forms, as far back as 2009 the Pew Foundation’s Campaign for America’s Wilderness actually hired the Montana Wilderness Association as an “Independent Contractor” to the tune of $304,500.00 in just 2009 alone. Montanans have also witnessed one-sided, down and pony show “public meetings” on Tester’s bill in which only hand-picked supporters of Tester’s bill were allowed to speak to the crowd. And who hasn’t noticed the dozens of canned, scripted Letters to the Editor (most of which from college students without a firm grasp on these issues) cheerleading for Congress to mandate more logging through Tester’s bill?
Let’s also not forget that all summer long we watched the Montana Wilderness Association spend some of their money on an Ad campaign making Rep Steve Daines (a “Tea Party” member of the House) out to be some great “bi-partisian” and encouraging Daines to work together with Senator Tester and Senator Baucus to support Tester’s mandated logging bill. Honestly, how good of a strategy is it to publicly encourage a “Tea Party” member of the US House to work together to support mandated logging of our public national forest lands? How naive must you be to actually think that getting Rep Daines involved with Tester’s mandated logging bill wouldn’t actually make Tester’s bill that much worse?
While the Montana Wilderness Association was busy all summer courting Rep Daines to be their new BFF not one single person from the Montana Wilderness Association (or any of the other environmental ‘collaborators’ supporting Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill) managed to uttered one single peep of protest, concern or opposition about Rep Daines’ very own mandated logging bill, which cuts the public process, NEPA analysis and effectivness of the ESA.
And what about the Montana Wilderness Association’s “timber mill partners” from their much lauded private “collaboration?” Do you think the Montana timber industry supports Rep Daines mandated logging bill? Of course they do! And one can assume the timber industry has no problem dropping Montana Wilderness Association like a bad habitat once the industry gets what they really wanted in the form of Rep Daines mandated logging bill.
In December 2009, as I sat in the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resource’s Committee hearing room, I heard Montana Wilderness Association’s director Tim Baker (who is now Gov Bullock’s “Natural Resource Adviser”) tell the Committee that MWA wouldn’t support Tester’s bill is the logging mandates were removed. So too, Sun Mountain Lumber owner Sherm Anderson told the Committee the timber industry wouldn’t support Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill without the Wilderness acres. Well, looks to me like Montana’s timber industry has dumped MWA in front of Daines’ mandated logging bus. All is fair in love and legislation, I guess.
“Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act” (HR 1526)
• Creates a legally-binding public lands logging mandate with no environmental or fiscal feasibility limits, and reestablishing the discredited 25% logging revenue sharing system with counties that was eliminated over a decade ago.
• Public participation and Endangered Species Act protections would be severely limited in Rep Daines’ bill. The bill creates huge loopholes in NEPA and such biased ESA requirements that in practice these laws would almost never meaningfully apply. For example, any project less than 10,000 acres (that’s 15.6 square miles) would be categorically excluded from environmental analysis and public participation, and the Forest Service would be required to submit a finding that endangered species are not jeopardized by any project, regardless of its actual effect on the species.
• Rep Daines successfully attached an amendment to the bill that would forbid the US Federal Courts from ever issuing injunctions against Forest Service logging projects based on alleged violations of procedural requirements in selecting, planning, or analyzing the project.
• Another amendment successfully added to the bill has the US Congress closing the US Federal Court House doors for any national forest timber sale resulting from the 2013 wildfires. Essentially this results in “Logging Without Laws,” as one entire branch of the US Government (the Judicial branch) is forbidden from hearing this issue.
If you’d like more “policy-wonky” information about Daines’ mandated logging bill check out this fact sheet.