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E-M:/ Republican's V. Republicans on Roadless Protection



Folks,
 
Thought you all may be interested in this piece from Republicans for Environmental Protection since the Clinton forest initiative would protect several thousand acres of public forest lands in Michigan.  Looks like the next two years are going to be extremely bad for the environment. 
 
 
David J. Zaber
dzaber@chorus.net
 
>
> (Jim Scarantino is a lawyer in Albuquerque, N.M., and executive director
> of REP America, the national grassroots organization of Republicans for
> Environmental Protection.)
>
> Philadelphia Inquirer
> Wednesday, January 17, 2001
>
> Commentary
> ------------------
> Road Republicans should take leads to the protection of forests
>
> By Jim Scarantino
>
> Even before the U.S. Forest Service published its final decision on the
> policy to protect roadless areas in national forests, congressional
> critics were sharpening the long knives -- or should we say axes?
>
> Some Republicans have indicated they will use any procedural roadblock,
> any interpretation of obscure law, and any specious argument necessary
> to derail the plan. But opposing forest protection would not only be a
> political mistake for the GOP and the new Bush administration, it would
> be bad policy as well.
>
> One key point of attack will be a never-tested law called the
> Congressional Review Act (CRA). Passed in the aftermath of earlier
> failed attempts to roll back environmental, health, and safety
> protections, CRA allows Congress to challenge new executive branch
> rules. In their effort to block forest conservation, Sen. Larry Craig
> (R., Idaho) and Sen. Frank Murkowski (R., Alaska), as well as Rep. Don
> Young (R., Alaska), have stated they intend to invoke not only this law,
> but another obscure measure called the Truth in Regulating Act.
>
> Other Republicans are lining up for their shot at the forest
> conservation measure. Rep. James Hansen (R., Utah), new chairman of the
> House Resources Committee, wrote to President-elect Bush asking for "any
> assistance" in halting the roadless policy, while Rep. John Peterson
> (R., Pa.), a member and possible chair of the House Forests and Forest
> Health Subcommittee, has said, "I will do everything in my power to stop
> it."
>
> Yet the policy being savaged represents all that's best about
> conservatism in America. It's fiscally responsible. It came about
> through massive local input. And it preserves a priceless heritage.
>
> Those who benefit the most from roads through forests are the extractive
> industries: logging, mining and drilling. In what amounts to corporate
> welfare and a taxpayer ripoff, the public has spent a fortune to build
> and maintain at least 383,000 miles of forest roads, more than eight
> times all the interstate highway miles put together. Yet the backlog for
> repairs on these roads totals over $8 billion. And even though less than
> 4 percent of our lumber now comes from national forests, the Forest
> Service managed to lose $1 billion on timber sales over a five-year
> period. No fiscally conservative Republican should attack a policy that
> promises to rein in such waste and special-interest favoritism.
>
> The roadless-area decisions were also done in the right way, through
> input not from highly paid Washington lobbyists but from regular people
> who went to local meetings in their hometowns all over the country. Over
> the three-year period in which the Forest Service developed the policy,
> about 600 meetings were held, more than have ever been held for public
> comment on any rule. Everybody who cared had a chance to speak about it,
> from New Mexico to New Hampshire. The policy also received nearly 2
> million comments, virtually all of which favored strong protection of
> roadless forests.
>
> Poll after poll has shown overwhelming bipartisan support. Trusting the
> people, as George W. Bush promised to do, means honoring the forest
> protections the American public has said it wants.
>
> By protecting roadless areas, finally, we act to preserve something for
> our children that could never be reclaimed, once it was lost. Already,
> more than half of our national forests are accessible by road and open
> to logging, mining and drilling. If we fail to shield the remainder from
> senseless and wasteful activities, we risk a slow but steady loss that
> would undermine a proud history of Republican conservation efforts.
>
> It would be foolish for Congress and the new administration to start
> their environmental track record by promoting profligacy and loss of
> something so precious. Americans of both parties want protection for our
> last remaining wild places. Ignoring these wishes by undermining the
> roadless policy would be hazardous to GOP political health and a tragedy
> for the generations to follow us.
>
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> Jim Scarantino is a lawyer in Albuquerque, N.M., and executive director
> of REP America, the national grassroots organization of Republicans for
> Environmental Protection.
>