Faulty Forest Bill Blazes Through House, Says NRDC

McInnis Bill Modeled After Bush Administration Plan to Cut the Heart Out of Environmental Laws Without Protecting Communities from Fires

Statement by Nathaniel Lawrence, NRDC Senior Attorney

SAN FRANCISCO (May 20, 2003) -- "The Bush-McInnis plan is a sham solution to a made-up problem," said NRDC Senior Attorney Nathaniel Lawrence. "The McInnis bill aims to solve a problem that doesn't exist. It's based on the false premise that the public's right to review and appeal logging plans is interfering with fire prevention. But just last week, the General Accounting Office released a report showing that the vast majority of thinning projects move forward quickly.

"We do have a real wildfire problem in this country -- it's the threat to communities. But instead of protecting homes and communities, the House bill promotes hasty, aggressive and ill-considered logging of Western forests in the guise of fire prevention. It would repeal essential forest protections, including the rights of public appeal and judicial review.

"No matter how many times our elected leaders repeat the lie, commercial logging in the backcountry is still just a hand-out to their friends and contributors in the timber industry, not the way to protect homes and people.

"We know the solution to reduce the urgent risk of fires based on the government's own research; it's thinning small trees and brush around people's homes. But this solution doesn't accomplish the administration's goal of weakening environmental laws and handing our national forests over to timber companies.

"It's an outrage that some members of Congress are putting industry profit before public safety. They should be ashamed for politicizing the problem and diverting resources when real people in real communities face the very real threat of wildfires. They are doing this while communities in forestlands face funding shortfalls to protect their homes from fires."

In addition to conservation groups, scientists, legal experts, local government officials and civil rights organizations have voiced their concerns about the House legislation.

For additional background on wildfires in Western forests, visit the NRDC website.

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.

Related NRDC Pages

Wildfires in Western Forests