Congress Sends Sham Forest Bill to President Bush, says NRDC

Statement by Amy Mall, NRDC Senior Forest Specialist

WASHINGTON (November 21, 2003) -- The president's signature on a forest bill passed today by Congress will undo important environmental protections and give valuable timber to logging companies without offering meaningful protection from wildfires, according to NRDC.

"Another page has just been burned from our nation's environmental law book," said Amy Mall, a senior forest specialist with NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council). "Congress conspired with the Bush administration to pass this logging bill in the guise of fire prevention. Unfortunately, this legislation -- modeled after the president's misnamed 'Healthy Forests Initiative' -- will do little to protect at-risk homes and communities from catastrophic wildfires.

"This sweeping bill cuts the heart out of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the time-tested foundation of many of our nation's most important environmental laws. It cuts the public out of meaningful participation in decisions affecting our public lands. At the same time, it makes false promises by failing to require federal agencies to place top priority on proven methods to protect homes and communities from fires.

"This bill is nothing more than a gift to the timber industry and a slap in the face to the American public."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.