Scientists have found that logging forests after fires and weather events not only impedes forest recovery but could damage ecosystems and actually increase fire risk. Nevertheless, Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) introduced H.R. 4200, the deceptively titled Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act, to expedite logging in national forests.
The bill denies protections to roadless areas, old-growth forests, critical wildlife habitat and other important areas. It also exempts logging projects from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires meaningful public involvement and the use of the best available science to determine appropriate actions. In addition, the bill waives the Clean Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and any other act that requires consultation prior to project implementation. Finally, H.R. 4200 creates incentives that could shift Forest Service efforts away from much-needed community protection and forest restoration toward destructive logging.
Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced an amendment to H.R. 4200 that would strike the bill’s waivers of the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws. On May 17, 2006, House Amendment 824 was rejected by a 189-236 vote (House roll call vote 147). YES is the pro-environment vote. That same day, the House approved H.R. 4200 by a 243-182 vote (House roll call vote 151). NO is the pro-environment vote. At press time, the Senate had not approved the bill.