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GOP attacks Clintons forest plan

Discussion in 'Land Use' started by mudfanatic, Feb 24, 2000.

  1. mudfanatic

    mudfanatic 1/2 ton status

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    By JOHN HUGHES Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) - In one of their strongest assaults yet on President
    Clinton's forest protection effort, GOP senators Tuesday said the initiative
    violates federal laws and was crafted secretly with the help of
    environmental
    special interests.

    "You have fatally tainted this rule-making," Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, told
    Clinton administration officials at a hearing of the subcommittee he chairs.

    He said the effort violates at least four laws, including the Freedom of
    Information Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

    Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said the administration should "declare this
    process is invalid and start over," and that the administration "did wrong"
    in favoring environmentalists in crafting the initiative.

    But agency officials defended the yearlong process, which could result in
    permanent protections of up to 50 million acres of already roadless federal
    forest land.

    Clinton announced the effort in October and gained accolades from
    environmentalists for launching what they called one of the great
    conservation
    efforts of the 20th century.

    The Clinton officials said they have already gathered 500,000 public
    comments
    and held 200 public meetings on the preliminary, scoping phase of the
    rule-making. They said they plan dozens of more meetings after a draft
    protection plan is unveiled in May.

    As for suggestions that the Forest Service is limiting public comments,
    "Nothing could be further from the truth," said Jim Lyons, the Agriculture
    Department undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service.

    He added, "We are confident we are following the letter of the law."

    GOP lawmakers have been critical of the plan from the day Clinton announced
    it, saying it would restrict access to recreationists, loggers and other
    forest users.

    But the GOP criticisms have increased in severity in recent days. Last
    Friday,
    a House subcommittee released a preliminary report drawing the same
    conclusions the senators did Tuesday - that the effort violates laws.

    At one point during Tuesday's hearing of the forests and public land
    management subcommittee, eight GOP senators, all from the West, took turns
    criticizing the administration and the Forest Service.

    "We do have an agency that's run amok," said Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska,
    who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which includes the
    subcommittee.

    Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., in criticizing the administration for
    sidestepping Congress, said, "Administrative decree may work great in a
    monarchy, but it's a lousy form of policy in a democracy."

    Kim Ryherd
    NOHVCC National Home Office
    kryherd@nohvcc.org
     

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