No sooner had Sierra Club President J. Robert Cox fired up a chainsaw during
a White House demonstration than the umber industry revealed the real goal
behind the budget rescissions bill's "salvage logging" provision: cutting
down America's last old growth forests. Just weeks after President Clinton
reneged ml hi. promise to veto the bill and signed it into law, the timber
industry quietly filed a lawsuit to release for logging more than 1.5 billion
board feet of healthy old growth timber in Oregon and Washington. The industry
is targeting several dozen timber sales offered between 1991 and 1995,
which federal agencies withdrew due to environmental concerns.
"The lawsuit proves that the timber industry doesn't want dead and dying
trees--it wants an excuse to log healthy old growth forests without honoring
environmental laws, " said Mark Lawler, Sierra Club Northwest regional
The Sierra Club and several other environmental organizations have moved
to intervene in the industry's lawsuit.
Under the "logging without laws" provision, the Forest Service and the
Bureau of Land Management must begin the sale of salvage timber immediately,
regardless of any environmental law. The Forest Service has promised to
provide 1.5 billion board feet of salvage timber for fiscal year 1995 and
3 billion board feet for FY1996; it has already prepared 800 million board
feet for sale. t
But the Seattle Times reported in mid-August that more than two-thirds
of the salvage timber sales offered by the agency in eastern Washington
this year haven't even received bids by timber companies.
With a host of other environmental groups, the Club is filing a petition
with the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA) environmental commission
challenging the suspension of environmental laws under the salvage logging
rider. The petition attacks the rider as a violation of the NAFTA environmental
side agreement. Mexican and Canadian non-governmental organizations will
likely support the petition, say Club leaders.
The Club is represented in both of these recent legal actions by the
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.
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