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Nader Requests Hearings on the Salvage Rider

  Distributed to TAP-RESOURCES, a free Internet Distribution List
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  March 7, 1996
  	The following letter was sent to the House and Senate Judiciary
  Committees from Ralph Nader. As the letter explains, the Judiciary
  Committee, along with all other relevant authorizing committees, never had
  a chance to review the very dangerous federal Emergency Timber Salvage
  Program language in P.L. 104-19, so hearings are in order.
  	Hearings are not only appropriate in the Judiciary Committee, they
  also allow issues to be raised away from the timber industry backed
  Resources Committee, and into an arena where substanative problemss could
  be addressed. If you would like to ask the Judiciary Committees to
  request hearings on the implementation of the "logging without laws" rider
  please call: 
  	Senate Judiciary Committee- v. (202) 224-5225
  				    f. (202) 224-9102
  	House Judiciary Committee-  v. (202) 225-3951
  				    f. (202) 225-7682
  Ned Daly
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    March 1, 1996
    Henry J. Hyde, Chairman          John Conyers
    United States Congress     	   United States Congress
    House of Representatives         House of Representatives
    Judiciary Committee              Judiciary Committee
    2138 Rayburn HOBuilding          2138 Rayburn HOB
    Washington, D.C.  20515          Washington, D.C.  20515
    Orrin Hatch, Chairman            Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
    United States Senate             United States Senate
    Committee on the Judiciary  	   Committee on the Judiciary
    224 Dirksen SOB                  224 Dirksen SOB
    Washington, D.C.  20510          Washington, D.C.  20510
    Dear Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members of the Judiciary
       I am writing to ask that the House and Senate Judiciary
    Committees hold hearings  on the recent suspension of all
    federal environmental laws and citizens' rights to redress
    regarding a publicly owned asset.  Senseless destruction of
    our public forestlands is now being carried out under the
    Emergency Salvage Timber Sale Program, more popularly known
    as the "Logging Without Laws" rider.  This law, which
    restricts the public's right to judicial redress and
    insulates management of a publicly owned asset from review
    of all environmental laws, passed the House and Senate as a
    rider in an appropriations bill, now Public Law 104-19. 
    Consequently, your committees and other relevant committees
    had no opportunity to address the radical measures taken to
    allow for  accelerated timber harvesting at a great expense
    to the taxpayer. 
       The appropriations bill did serve several important
    purposes including the provision of emergency federal aid
    for the Oklahoma City bombing; however, by including the
    salvage provisions in this bill, proper congressional
    procedures have been avoided resulting in renegade logging
    of publicly owned forests which conforms to neither the rule
    of law nor science.  We urge the Judiciary Committees to
    hold hearings and correct this situation.
       The salvage provisions in P.L. 104-19 suspend, in
    whole, the following environmental statutes:
               The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources
                 Planning Act;
               The Federal Land Policy and Management Act;
               The National Environmental Policy Act;
               The Endangered Species Act;
               The National Forest Management Act;    
               The Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act;
               	And the catch-all provision, suspending:
               "All other applicable Federal environmental and
                   natural resource laws."
    These statutes are the product of years of bipartisan effort
    in Congress and they form the environmental foundation of
    our legal system, yet the salvage rider nullifies them
    without so much as a hearing in your committees.  
            In addition to eliminating all substantive
    environmental laws, the rider goes even farther by
    practically repealing all citizens' rights before the
    judiciary.  The rider prohibits a court from issuing any
    "restraining order, preliminary injunction, or injunction
    pending appeal" relating to a salvage timber sale.  A
    permanent injunction may issue for a particular sale but
    only if it is found to be "arbitrary and capricious or
    otherwise not in accordance with applicable law."  There is,
    of course, no "applicable law" because the rider has
    suspended all environmental statutes, and it is difficult to
    imagine an agency being found arbitrary and capricious when
    it has no standards or laws to violate.  The timber sales
    may proceed completely at the agency's whim.  Had the
    judiciary committees thoroughly reviewed the salvage
    language it is unlikely that the rider's blatant disregard
    for citizen review and participation would have survived.    
       In addition to restricting future judicial redress, the
    rider appears to open up previously outlawed timber sales by
    making null and void any prior court rulings:
                 The Secretary concerned may conduct
         salvage timber sales . . .notwithstanding any
         decision, restraining order, or injunction issued
         by a United States court before the date of the
         enactment of this section. Public Law 104-19, sec
         2001 (c)(9).     
    The rider has given rise to situations in which a specific
    timber sale was prevented by judicial order due to
    environmental problems, but is now being reformulated into a
    salvage sale free from any environmental restraints.  This
    blatant disregard for our legal system is an embarrassment
    and the environmental impacts are currently mounting.
       The law's provisions also define "salvage" so broadly
    as to permit the logging of almost any area.  Salvageable
    sections of a forest include those that are "imminently
    susceptible to fire or insect attack" or "lacking the
    characteristics of a healthy and viable ecosystem."  Under
    such a nebulous definition, whether a salvage sale will
    occur is solely a matter of agency discretion.  The salvage
    rider has already been used by the timber industry to secure
    timber sales on tracts that were previously off limits due
    to environmental requirements.  Moreover,  pristine,
    roadless areas are decimated every week by unbridled
       The salvage rider also has serious implications which
    go beyond the ravaging of our legal system.  Taxpayers lose
    tens of millions of dollars annually on salvage logging in
    our national forests.  Despite the timber industry's
    cavalier assertion that salvage logging is good for forest
    health, independent scientists agree that overcutting is the
    greatest threat to our forest ecosystems.  It is the health
    of the timber industry, not the forests, which taxpayers are
    subsidizing.  If salvage logging truly benefits forest
    health, there is no reason to suspend our nation's
    environmental laws.  
       Along with the loss of tax dollars, quality of life and
    economic diversity are also eroded where the unsustainable
    harvesting is taking place.  People who depend on salmon
    fishing for their livelihoods have already been devastated
    by over-logging, and now have no way of protecting the
    remaining healthy riparian areas upon which they depend. 
    The salmon fishing industry in the Northwest has lost about
    72,000 family wage jobs over the past 30 years.  Of the jobs
    lost, 25,000 are directly related to the collapse of the
    Columbia River salmon runs (hydropower related mostly) with
    the remainder (47,000) related to the collapse of the
    coastal runs -- including some that will be pushed right to
    the brink of extinction under the "Logging without Laws"
    rider according to the Pacific Coast Federation of
    Fishermen's Associations.  People who depend on salmon
    fishing have now also lost their ability to fight to protect
    their industry and their jobs under the rider's repeal of
    meaningful access to the judiciary. 
       The cost of running the salvage program is also a
    fiscal debacle.  Salvage logging on public lands costs the
    taxpayer tens of millions of dollars annually, a figure
    which can only increase in this new accelerated salvage
    program.  The sale of timber in our national forests is
    often priced below-cost, but the rider takes this practice
    to the extreme.  The timber industry obtained a favorable
    ruling in Oregon U.S. District Court confirming that
    previously offered timber sales in Oregon and Washington,
    whether they were abandoned for environmental or any other
    reasons, would have to be made available at the originally
    offered terms.  Northwest Forest Resources Council v.
    Glickman, No. 95-6244-HO, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13300 (D.Or.
    Sept. 8, 1995).  This applies to offered sales dating back
    to 1990, and involves pricing that is many times below
    current market rates.  
       While the salvage rider is clearly a boon to logging
    companies, handing out generous corporate welfare funds is
    not the behavior one would expect from a government
    struggling to balance the budget and reduce spending. 
    Public assets should be managed in the public's interest. 
    No one can argue that restricting citizens' rights,
    degrading public property and forcing taxpayers to subsidize
    an industry which is already seeing record profits are in
    the public's interest.
       As Majority leader Dole said a few weeks ago regarding
    the recently passed Telecommunications bill, "It makes no
    sense to me then that Congress would create a giant
    corporate welfare program when we are reforming welfare for
    those trapped in a failed system.... The bottom line is that
    [broadcast] spectrum is just as much a national resource as
    our national forests. That means they belong to every
    American equally. No more, no less. If someone wants to use
    our resources, then we should be fairly compensated." 
    Certainly the Republican leadership would agree that along
    with fair compensation for the use of all our national
    resources, adherence to applicable federal laws is crucial
    in the management of our publicly owned assets.
       As Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members of the House
    and Senate Judiciary Committees, I respectfully request that
    you consider the impacts the ill-conceived salvage rider has
    had in environmental and economic terms.  Due to the
    suspension of applicable laws, hearings in your committee
    are the only public way to comprehensively gauge the effect
    this egregious rider has had on the management of public
    lands.  I look forward to hearing from you on this matter. 
    If your office needs more information on the "Logging
    without Laws" rider please contact Todd Paglia at (202) 387-8030.
                           Ralph Nader
                           P.O. Box 19312
                           Washington, D.C.  20036
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