It’s back, and worse than ever.
The House of Representatives yesterday approved a 2018 Farm Bill that would gut environmental laws, hamstring citizen legal challenges and open now-protected stretches of Alaska’s Tongass and Chugach national forests to road-building and logging.
The bill, more than 700 pages long, would, in short, roll back decades of environmental gains. It passed by a narrow margin, 213-211, with every Democrat and 20 Republicans voting in opposition. The House voted down a previous version of the Farm Bill for reasons unrelated to national forests.
Here are a few of the more egregious provisions. The bill would …
- Create local “resource advisory committees” that would control the purse strings for logging projects on national forests.
- Eliminate protections under the Endangered Species Act for logging projects that officials determine are “not likely to adversely affect a listed species or designated critical habitat.”
- Eliminate environmental reviews for a wide range of logging projects as large as 6,000 acres.
- Forbid any judge from issuing a restraining order or injunction for salvage operations after wildfires and other “catastrophic events.”
- Exempt all national forest land in Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
The Senate is set to consider its own version of the bill in coming days. Perhaps a few enlightened souls there will decide that a Farm Bill is not a proper vehicle for determining national forest policy.