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E-M:/ Sen. Levin KILLS Forest Protection Measure



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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FOR RELEASE 8:00 P.M. Wednesday, September 17
Contact:  Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club 517-484-2372
          anne.woiwode@sierraclub.com

SENATOR LEVIN KILLS EFFORT TO GET RID OF TIMBER INDUSTRY TAXPAYER GIVEAWAY

In a move that has stunned the Michigan environmental community, Senator Carl
Levin has singlehandedly shot down the effort to save taxpayers tens of
millions of dollars each year by ending the environmentally disastrous
practice of paying loggers to destroy habitat by building unneeded roads in
National Forests nationwide.

On the floor of the US Senate Wednesday evening Senator Levin cast a NO vote
on the Bryan Amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill, leading to a 50 to
50 tie vote, which killed the amendment.  When asked by Senator Levin would
vote against both the taxpayers and the environment on this issue, a Levin
staffer observed that the Vice President should have been there instead to
break the tie.

The Bryan amendment, which attracted support from a broad coalition of
taxpayers advocacy organizations, religious organizations, and scientists as
well as environmentalists, proposed elimination of an annual $50 million
rebate to loggers who build roads in National Forests to access timber sales,
often in remote and environmentally sensitive areas.  Another $10 million
would be cut in the regular Forest Service road building budget as well.

Environmentalists, astounded that Senator Levin would vote wrong on what
should have been a no-brainer for this fiscal and environmental moderate, are
searching for explanations.  In Michigan, the roads issues in National Forests
is a non-issue, but the increasingly aggressive and well-financed timber
industry lobbyists in the state apparently provided lots of misinformation to
Levin about this issue.  One of the Senator's former key aides in Michigan is
now the lobbyist for the Mead Paper Company, Michigan's largest forest land
owner and a major player in the state.

"It appears that Senator Levin didn't want to know the real story about timber
roads in Michigan, and decided to swallow the industry's line hook, line and
sinker," according to Anne Woiwode of the Michigan Sierra Club. "This is such
a total departure from the Senator's past practice of thoughtful solicitation
of the facts and careful consideration prior to casting a key vote on an issue
like this.  Michigan citizen's supporting the Bryan amendment had trouble
getting their messages heard by Levin's office, while the industry seemed to
have a direct pipeline to the Senator, and was feeding new lines to fight off
each and every factual issue raised by environmentalists and taxpayers
groups."

With many crucial votes likely to come up on National Forest in the Congress
this year, Michigan environmentalists are wondering whether Senator Levin has
decided to throw his lot entirely with the timber industry.  "This was a
virtually insignificant vote in terms of Michigan's three National Forests,
but a critical litmus test of the mood of the Senate regarding the timber
industry's all out plan to destroy environmental protections on our National
Forests," according to Woiwode.  "Senator Levin failed this test miserably,
heeding only the industry, not the owners and users of these important public
lands."  

-end-


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