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The Planet

Sierra Club Outraged at Clinton's Forest Flip-Flop

The president sets a dangerous precedent by breaking his promise to veto a salvage-logging bill

Amy Wilson

Sierra Club leaders were outraged and deeply disappointed this summer when President Clinton suddenly reversed his opposition to a timber salvage rider attached to the budget "rescissions" bill, which slashes $16 billion in funding for existing federal programs. After publicly decrying the "logging without laws" measure and vetoing the original rescissions bill, Clinton stunned the environmental community when he agreed to sign a "compromise" bill that retained the rider. At press time, the bill had been passed by the Senate and was awaiting Clinton's signature.

The "logging without laws" provision allows the timber industry to sidestep environmental laws and clearcut America's public forests. It waives the Clean Water Act and all other environmental laws; bars citizens from exercising their right to challenge illegal logging plans in court; defines salvage logging so broadly that massive clearcutting of healthy trees will be allowed; and directs the federal government to dramatically increase timber harvests. "President Clinton's flip-flop was a betrayal of the American people who are counting on him to protect our national forests from special interests like the timber industry," said Sierra Club President J. Robert Cox. What's more, say Club leaders, the president's reversal casts doubt over his other veto promises. Clinton has said he will veto H.R. 961, the "Dirty Water Bill" that guts the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act. He also announced he would veto Sen. Bob Dole's (R-Kan.) "Risk Your Life" risk assessment bill, S. 343, which would hamstring America's environmental protections by imposing expensive and lengthy cost-benefit analyses on the federal agencies that administer them.

"Unless the White House hears a loud and clear message from the American public that the president must follow through on these promises, he may capitulate to the extremists in Congress again and sign away our right to a safe and healthy environment," said Carl Pope, the Club's executive director. The fact that a salvage-logging rider was attached to a budget-slashing bill at all is another cause for serious concern, say environmentalists. The tactic is just one of many obscure, back-door routes that congressional leaders are taking to destroy or sidestep the nation's environmental safeguards.

"Anti-environmental leaders in Congress and their allies in polluting industries are working to exploit our natural resources and degrade our air, water and lands without the knowledge or permission of the American people," said Cox. "This undermines the very foundation of our democratic process of government."

Express your outrage to President Clinton about his broken promise to veto the rescissions bill. Urge him to follow through on his promises to veto H.R. 961, the "Dirty Water Bill," and S. 343, the "Risk Your Life" risk assessment bill, and other anti-environmental legislation. Call the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111.

Write Clinton at:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500
Or e-mail him at:
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