NPCA, along with partners, submitted the following position to members of the House Committee on Agriculture ahead of a legislative hearing scheduled for April 18, 2018.
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters we urge you to strongly oppose the extreme and divisively partisan federal forest provisions in the Forestry Title of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), also known as “the Farm Bill.”
The legislation is replete with provisions that undermine bedrock environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Roadless Rule). This bill consistently prioritizes the logging industry over all other forest stakeholders. It would cause irreparable harm to our federal forests, the millions of Americans who depend on them for clean drinking water, subsistence, recreation, and economic benefit, and the wildlife that call them home.
The federal forest provisions in the Farm Bill also run contrary to the wildfire funding agreement reached only weeks ago in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus. That deal was only reached after significant environmental concessions to pro-logging hardliners, even though a comprehensive wildfire funding solution had solid bi-partisan support in both chambers going into the omnibus negotiation.
Ignoring that compromise, H.R. 2 doubles the size of the just-agreed to exemptions under NEPA to allow logging of up to 6,000-acres almost 10 square miles for each single project— without review and disclosure of potential harms. The bill adds numerous new 6,000-acre exemptions. This partisan bill also goes further than the omnibus deal on the ESA, allowing federal land management agencies to “self-consult” on whether their actions would harm threatened and endangered species even though such self-consultation has already been declared unlawful by the courts. Additionally, it attacks the landmark Roadless Rule, makes resource management and forest stewardship dependent on logging revenue, and jeopardizes fire-vulnerable communities by deprioritizing hazardous fuels reduction efforts in the Wildland Urban Interface.
The harmful federal forest proposals in this legislation solve no problem; they only add controversy to the Farm Bill and weaken its chances of becoming law.
For all of these reasons we strongly urge you to OPPOSE the federal forest provisions in the Farm Bill and any amendments that further undermine environmental safeguards on our federal forests.
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Director of Legislation and Policy, Government Affairs