Clean | Green | Sustainable

Did Sen Tester forget that he already re-introduced his logging bill?

Posted by Matthew Koehler on February 24, 2011

The Tuesday, February 22, 2011 edition of the Missoulian included this article, which detailed Senator Tester’s talk at the annual Salish Kootenai College Career Fair in Pablo.

According to the article:

In response to other questions from the crowd, Tester also said:

• His Forest Jobs and Recreation Act will likely be re-introduced soon, probably attached as an amendment to another bill because it is Montana-specific, and Congress otherwise would not get around to considering it. “We’ll drop it in very soon, probably without much fanfare,” Tester said. “We’ve already been through that part, and had the fanfare.”

It’s very strange that Senator Tester would claim that his so-called Forest Jobs and Recreation Act will likely be re-introduced soon. Why?  Because the truth of the matter is that Senator Tester has already, in fact, re-introduced his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

According to the official website of the Library of Congress (which tracks all federal bills), the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act was re-introduced by Senator Tester on Feb 3, 2011 (three weeks ago) and was “Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.”  Tester’s mandated logging bill has been given bill number “S.268,” so anyone can view the bill language for themselves by visiting this site doing a search via the bill number.

It’s worth pointing out that the current version of the FJRA that Senator Tester has introduced this session of Congress differs from his original bill in a number of significant ways.  However, it unfortunately seems very clear that Senator Tester will not be looking to hold a Senate hearing on the new version of his bill. Nope, it seems clear that Senator Tester will again try the questionable maneuver of attaching his FJRA as a rider to a piece of unrelated, must pass legislation, such as the upcoming appropriations bills.

Perhaps this the reason why Senator Tester said he doesn’t want much “fanfare” for his mandated logging bill this session of Congress? Perhaps this is why he told the folks up in Pablo that his bill wasn’t re-introduced yet, when in fact it was re-introduced on February 3, 2011.

What hasn’t change in this session of Congress is the serious, substantive concerns expressed by many Montanans – as well as Americans – with Senator Tester’s FJRA. Concerns and opposition has come from not only the 50 plus conservation organizations (including 16 Montana organizations) that make up the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, but also conservation groups such as the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility – some of the most respected environmental groups in our nation. Concerns have also been expressed publicly from some of the former Chiefs of the Forest Service and a host of former Forest Service supervisors and district rangers.

Despite some minor changes, Senator Tester’s FJRA bill would still  have members of Congress mandating how and where logging takes place in our forests; would turn some of Montana’s federal wildlands (including Wilderness Study Areas protected in the late 1970s by former Montana Senator Lee Metcalf) into permanent motorized recreation areas; would allow motors and other non-compatible uses in Wilderness and would cause negative impacts to the Forest Service budgets in our region.

The future of America’s national forest legacy is much more important than blindly supporting some politician who apparently thinks the best way to manage America’s public lands is through mandates and interference from Congress…but then forgets to tell a public gathering that the bill has already been reintroduced in Congress.

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