Tester Uses His Seat On Appropriations Committee

Senator Majority Leader Reid released today a draft of the 2011 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which he hopes to navigate through the last days of this Congress. The 1,924-page bill includes Senator Tester’s Montana Forest Jobs and Restoration Act (beginning on page 893), but does not include Senator Wyden’s Eastside Oregon counterpart. Tester sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, from which this bill originates; Wyden does not.

This omnibus appropriations bill should not be confused with an omnibus public lands bill that has also been released in draft. The public lands omnibus includes bills passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, including three designating wilderness in Oregon (Devil’s Staircase), Washington (Alpine Lakes additions) and New Mexico (Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks).

2 thoughts on “Tester Uses His Seat On Appropriations Committee”

  1. By far, the most comprehensive, up-to-date collection of documents, releases, quotes, charts and comments related to Senator Tester’s bill is at the The Lowdown Blog (http://mtlowdown.com) of John S. Adams, the capital bureau chief for the Great Falls Tribune here in Montana. I’d encourage everyone to spend some time over there, review the information and share your opinions. This is an important issue. http://mtlowdown.com

    My views views on this issue have been well documented over the past few years. Many Montanans have expressed serious, substantive concerns with this bill, including the mandated logging provisions, motors in Wilderness and turning some wildlands into permanent motorized recreation areas. That’s a major reason why the bill never made it out of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, never made it to the floor of the US Senate and never was introduced in the US House.

    Instead of honestly listening to these concerns, Senator Tester apparently decided to work behind the scenes to attach a different version of his bill to this completely unrelated $1.3 trillion spending bill that’s nearly 2000 pages long. It’s unfortunate that Senator Tester has chosen such a course. It’s equally unfortunate to see some people support this approach, while they largely ignore, or don’t understand, the actual substance of this issue.

    I should also point out that while Senator Tester likes to say this is a jobs bill for the timber industry, new home construction in America is down 70% and overall wood consumption is down 50%. Just where are all these forests Senator Tester wants cut down going to end up? The fact is that the Forest Service in the northern Rockies ended 2009 with more timber volume under contract to loggers and mills in our region than any point in the last decade, but still mills either closed or have dramatically reduced their work force because of the economic crisis, which drags on with little relief in sight.

    And we shouldn’t need to remind people that we’re still in the middle of the worst economic crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression. The economic crisis was caused by over-consumption and over-development and people and businesses spending and consuming way, way beyond their means. All of this has come crashing down around us, and will continue to do so unless we buck up, face this stark reality and move forward accordingly. We cannot continue along on our current path, nor should we assume we can go back to the way things were for much of the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Congress stepping in to mandate more public lands logging in this context is irrational. Thanks.

  2. Matthew-

    I was thinking of posting the link to the Lowdown Blog also. What I thought was interesting was the part following
    “Based on input from thousands of Montanans, the Forest Service, and the Energy and Natural Resource committee, Senator Tester made the following changes:” which sounded, for all the world, like a “response to comments” section for an executive branch action.

    Since I had only heard your perspective before, I also thought Wayne’s comments and your responses were interesting. What I don’t get about the motorized parts is whether that means permanently allowing current motorized use or allowing new motorized use- to me that would be an important distinction.


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