Sen. Wyden to meet with enviro CEOs to discuss NEPA, ESA

I would love to be a fly on the wall for this meeting..I wonder if it is open to the public..
From the E&E here. Below is an excerpt.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tomorrow is scheduled to meet with the CEOs of major environmental groups to discuss his pending legislation to resolve decades-long disputes over timber management in western Oregon.

The meeting will come roughly a week after the leaders of seven groups sent a letter to Wyden requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns over how his bill will address the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, statutes that have hindered timber harvests on the roughly 2.5 million acres of so-called O&C lands.

“The ESA and NEPA are essential elements of a legal framework that has proven highly successful in maintaining the full range of values provided by the O&C lands,” the groups’ leaders wrote in their letter. “We are deeply concerned, however, that irreplaceable contributions of these public lands will be lost if review of federal forest management under the ESA and NEPA is constrained or eliminated as part of your effort to ‘modernize existing federal laws as they apply to O&C lands.'”

Signing the letter was Jamie Rappaport Clark of Defenders of Wildlife, Trip Van Noppen of Earthjustice, Philip Radford of Greenpeace, Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters, Frances Beinecke of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michael Brune of the Sierra Club and Jamie Williams of the Wilderness Society.

They were referring specifically to a legislative framework Wyden released in May for a bill that seeks to increase timber harvests on O&C lands while ensuring old-growth protections, wilderness designations and river protections on an equal amount of lands.

Concern was also raised over a separate provision in the framework proposing logging projects at a “steady, sustainable, and uninterrupted rate once an initial review of all lands set aside for management is completed and as long as subsequent timber sales comply with the legislation” (E&E Daily, May 24).

“A single high altitude review followed by decades of timber harvests would be fundamentally incompatible with the ESA, which requires a determination of whether such harvests are likely to jeopardize a species’ existence or adversely modify its critical habitat and a determination of the number listed species that are likely to be incidentally taken by that logging,” the groups’ leaders wrote.

Really? Fundamentally incompatible?The problem is that we can’t tell what is posturing and what is not..We can all see ways that you could try some things- pick the best design criteria you can and review success at 5 years? Does anyone think that something will go extent in 5 years? Or a certain acreage of projects would require public review by a, say, FACA committee?

10 thoughts on “Sen. Wyden to meet with enviro CEOs to discuss NEPA, ESA”

    • The meeting will come roughly a week after the leaders of seven groups sent a letter to Wyden requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns over how his bill will address the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, statutes that have hindered timber harvests on the roughly 2.5 million acres of so-called O&C lands.

      Seems to me, Steve, that if timber industry executives write Senator Wyden a letter and request a meeting to share their perspective, that the good senator would agree to it. Anyway, I have a hard time believing that in the 17 years Wyden’s been Oregon’s senator that he hasn’t held numerous meetings with timber industry executives, lobbyists, mill owners, etc.

      • What’s interesting to me is that the meeting is with the “CEOs” who are not his constituents.. I would think the Senator would not be meeting with mill owners from Connecticut..
        And I doubt if the “CEOs” really understand the ins and outs of the situation. Especially what it feels like to live in parts of Oregon where your future seemingly determined by external folks.

        I wish that there were a place for the “regular people” to weigh in. Not “industry.” Not “enviros”. But I don’t think there is unless you are a constituent.

        • Sharon, How many citizens of Oregon do think are members of the Sierra Club? Greenpeace? NRDC? The Wilderness Society? Defenders of Wildlife? LCV? My guess is well over 25,000 Oregon citizens, and perhaps as many as 100,000 are members of these organizations.

          While I would agree that these top brass might not know the “ins and outs of the situation” I believe their staff members have a decent enough grasp of the issues to meet with the Senator and offer their perspective.

          Anyway, it’s sort of ironic to me that on one hand you complain about nearly every lawsuits we’ve ever discussed on this blog, but on the hand you complain about enviros meeting face-to-face with an elected official (as if environmental lobbyists….and logging lobbyists, and oil lobbyists, fracking lobbyists, mining lobbyists, grazing lobbyists, etc aren’t on The Hill talking to members of Congress every day.)

          Honestly, what would you like enviros to do, besides nothing? Or go away?

          • Matthew, you raise many interesting questions.
            I used to work in the FS which had the equivalent of local chapters. Many times if you asked a Ranger, Supe, the RF, the Chief and the Dept the same question you will get different answers. Now the Senator is asking the national office of these groups, who could well have a different opinion from the members in Oregon. It is doubtful that any of these organizations queried their state members prior to determining their policy. In fact, the Sierra Club’s policy, last I checked, was no commercial timber harvest. So that and the O&C lands seems like a non-starter policy-wise.

            My own experience with this was with TWS who had an excellent person be a member of the State Task Force on Colorado Roadless. He negotiated and represented their position until the day it turned out he couldn’t actually negotiate for the national organization because ideologically the national organization was opposed to state rules. In this case, in my opinion, you can only draw one of two conclusions: 1) their organization was not negotiating in good faith or 2) the national office makes the judgment calls. I had always been sympathetic to this situation because at the end of the day all hierarchical organizations work the same way. It’s hard to criticize when you know at the end of the day, you would have to do the same thing.

            My point is that just because they have members in Oregon does not mean that each member has vetted the organizations’ position which seems to be “everything is fine”. Maybe it is a different position, which would be good to know.

            That’s a really good question.. about what I would like to see them do. I would like to see organizations which have enough bucks to engage in protracted litigation, spend them more directly on getting the desired endpoint.. like TNC and BFF in the Conata Basin..

      • I think Wyden is a pretty good senator, overall, even if I don’t agree with everything he’s done or proposed. He was a bit too close to wilderness advocates on his proposed Mt. Hood wilderness additions (some call it a swiss cheese wilderness). His diameter limit and now age limit proposals do not make for good forestry, but he’s trying for some kind of solution.

  1. For better or for worse, “new” science needs to continue to have an effect on policies and projects. It is up to smarter people to figure out just how valid or applicable a given paper is to individual projects. I also think that if a species (owls and goshawks) is listed, solely because of a lack of habitat, then that habitat should also have “protections” against wildfires, too, where applicable. Recovery plans should also include plans to accelerate the formation of new nesting habitats, through selective thinning. At least, in my part of the country.


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