NPCA submitted the following position on H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act, when the bill was considered on the House floor on July 9, 2015.
NPCA opposes this legislation which would directly affect the nation’s most valuable national forests, including those adjacent to some of our most iconic National Parks, which ecologically depend on adjacent natural lands. H.R. 2647 undermines the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through an expansion of Categorical Exclusions (CE)—undermining transparent decision making because it does not require an environmental review. The bill would cut out meaningful and informed public involvement by waiving NEPA for these new CEs, including often damaging salvage logging operations.
Further, the bill limits public access to the courts and judicial review which would potentially allow poorly conceived projects to proceed without accountability. Not only does this bill incentivize natural resource extraction rather than restoration, but it further undermines existing forest service planning and authorities. The Forest Service already has ample authority under current law and policy to manage for environmental resiliency to climate change, drought, and uncharacteristic fire, and to provide for multiple uses on our public lands.
Finally, H.R. 2647 could increase levels of intensive logging and other extractive practices which could result in the dumping sediment into watersheds, thereby polluting critical drinking water supplies and affecting waters running through and near our national parks.
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Former Deputy Vice President, Government Affairs