Forest Bill Limiting Environmental Review And Timber Lawsuits Passes House

Jul 9, 2015

The U.S. House has passed legislation designed to improve the health of national forests by scaling back the environmental reviews that go into some timber projects, and making it harder to file lawsuits that delay thinning projects.

Montana Republican Ryan Zinke is co-sponsoring the bill.

"And it does what it should do. It encourages local organizations to work together on collaborative projects and revitalize the economy. But not only that, it revitalizes our forests," Zinke said.

Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark spoke against the bill, echoing criticisms voice by environmentalists in Montana.

"This bill irresponsibly chips away at the environmental safeguards of the National Environmental Policy Act, and  places tremendous burdens on American citizens seeking to participate in the public review process of Forest Service projects."

The bill meets the Obama administration part way when it comes to treating some wildfires like other federal disasters, and would stop allocating money to fight them from the Forest Service’s general budget. Advocates say that would allow the agency to be more effective at managing forests and preventing wildfires.