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Sen. Tester: Lawsuit Claim An 'Error'

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Yesterday,in a story about attempts to boost revenuefor Montana counties that are mostly federal land, Montana Senator Jon Tester made the following statement: 

"Unfortunately, every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation. Every one of them."

Several listeners questioned that statement, so we asked Senator Tester to respond. 

His communications director Marnee Banks said he is unavailable this week.

Banks says Tester's staff checked with the Forest Service, and now says, less than half "of the awarded timber volume in Fiscal 2014 is currently under litigation."

"I apologize for the error," Banks said via email. 

In the story, Senator Tester also referenced Matthew Koehler, with the Missoula-based environmental group Wildwest Institute. Tester said Koehler "is part of the problem" of litigation costs taking money away from timber management.

Koehler responded that the Wildwest Institute has not litigated a logging sale in at least seven years.

Koehler has asked Senator Tester for an apology, and also takes issue with Tester's clarification.

"He has now gone from claiming that 'every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation,' and has switched to talking about 'awarded timber VOLUME,' Koehler wrote to us. 

"As expected, Tester’s response is just total subterfuge and he entirely failed to own up to the fact that he lied to the people of Montana on your news program."

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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