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June 11, 2002

Contact: Steve Holmer, American Lands Alliance, Washington DC, 202-547-9105
Doug Heiken, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Eugene, Oregon, 541-344-0675

Conservationists Defend the "Environmental Bill-of Rights" which is Under Attack by the Bush Administration

Forest Service Looks To increase Logging In Great Lakes Region

Washington D.C.- Dale Bosworth, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, will testify before the House Resources Committee Wednesday, June 12th about "excess process" that prevents the Forest Service from achieving its resource extraction goals. Conservationists responded that the Forest Service is locked in a "culture of lawlessness" and should stop making excuses for repeatedly breaking US environmental laws. "Chief Bosworth essentially unveiled a timber industry 'wish list' to get rid of our environmental safeguards," said Doug Heiken, Oregon Natural Resources Council. "The bottom line is that the Bush administration is doing industry's bidding by proposing to repeal environmental safeguards and make it easier for the timber industry to destroy our public land legacy." "The Forest Service doesn't like the environmental laws so they are proposing to change the rules.

Federal environmental laws basically say that decision makers have to 'look before they leap', the agency wants to 'log before they look'," said Randi Spivak, Executive Director of American Lands Alliance. "Even if it takes a little more time, requirements for informed and accountable decisions are a small price to pay to protect our children's public land heritage. We must not weaken environmental safeguards for the convenience of the timber industry or the bureaucrats." "Environmental review shines a bright light on the dark truth of forest destruction, species extinction, and impaired water quality," said Brian Vincent, California Organizer for American Lands. "The Bush administration wants to pull the wool over the eyes of the public and ignore the serious consequences of forest destruction. Clean air, clean water and healthy forests are too important to sacrifice for the short-term profits of the timber industry."

The Great Lakes is one of the most the most heavily logged regions in the nation, and would certainly be impacted if the Forest Service can successfully increase its extraction.

Conservationists say the solution is to continue to use the core principles of informed decision-making and accountability and hope that federal forest managers decide to start following laws protecting threatened fish and wildlife and begin helping rural communities restore public forests and watersheds. "The public should continue to insist on fully informed decisions, and good decisions that restore the forest will be approved quickly without appeals and litigation," said Heiken. "While bad decisions, like those that destroy old-growth, should be stopped and held accountable." Background Information on Procedural Safeguards for the Environment Environmental Safeguards are Mostly Procedural Opponents of the environment have used the term "analysis paralysis" to describe their frustration with environmental requirements. To understand this issue one has to understand the nature of our environmental laws. Our environmental laws rarely if ever say, "thou shall not pollute and destroy . . ."

Our nation's principle environmental safeguards are processes and procedures intended to achieve decisions that are fully informed and accountable. The most basic premise of federal environmental law is that a federal decision-maker must "look before they leap." The U.S. Constitution does not protect the environment. Environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act is like "due process" for the environment. It's the closest thing we have to a Bill-of-Rights for the environment. It's the main way for the public to hold the government accountable for protecting our public land, air, and water.

To suggest that we get rid of our environmental Bill-of-Rights is asking for greater public opposition and uninformed land management decisions. Conservationists Have a Solution Public opposition and the resulting gridlock is a result of controversial projects in sensitive areas such as old growth, roadless areas, important habitat areas, and near streams. The obvious solution is to avoid logging in sensitive areas and to listen to the public's repeated demands that these critically important forest areas be permanently protected. Steve Holmer Campaign Coordinator American Lands 726 7th Street SE Washington, D.C. 20003 202/547-9105 202/547-9213 fax

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