Category Archive: Federal Lands

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U.S House of Representatives Investigates Environmental Groups Enforcing Environmental Laws for Navy

Rep. Bishop (R-UT), Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and Rep. Westerman (R-AR), Subcommittee on Oversight, have launched an investigation into the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)’s efforts to protect aquatic species from military operations in the Pacific. The basis: NRDC is acting on behalf of China to weaken national security and must register as a “foreign agent.” The letter to NRDC states that given the “close ties between NRDC and the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party,” the Committee wants to explore the close relationship and NRDC’s efforts to influence U.S. security policy. The proof of NRDC’s ties?: the fact that NRDC reports on China’s environmental efforts and helps China to maintain a positive perception to the American public, and that NRDC is more critical, litigious and takes an adversarial approach to the U.S. government—in particular the U.S. Navy’s operations in the Pacific.

“We are interested in environmental litigation by U.S.-based 501(c) organizations against the Department of Defense and its negative impact on our national security,” House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop and Oversight Subcommittee Chair Bruce Westerman wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis. – Reuters

NRDC responded to the probe saying they were looking forward to meeting with the Committee, and that their work is on behalf of Americans and the world our future generations will inherit.

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OFCO Joins 122 Conservation Groups to Oppose Forest Provisions in Farm Bill – Bill Fails

The Wilderness Society (TWS) led the effort to oppose the forest provisions in the Forestry Title of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), known as “the House Farm Bill that aimed at deconstructing decades of conservation work for our federal forests.” See some of the attempted rollback of environmental protections here.

The bill failed passage in the House (yeas 198 to 213 nays). According to TWS, the takeaway: This version failed because of its radical departure from the past more bipartisan efforts. The Senate will be taking up some version of the farm bill. The regressive goals of the bill likely will come back in other forms; for now, they have failed. They include:

  • Repealing the Conservation Stewardship Program and incorporating parts of the program into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program;
  • Revising the requirements and process for the Environmental Protection Agency pesticide registration program;
  • Requiring farmers to make a one-time election to obtain either price loss coverage or agricultural risk coverage for the 2019–2023 crop years; and
  • Expanding the categorical exclusions that exempt certain forest management activities from requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act to prepare an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement.

(excerpted from the Congressional Research Service bill summary)

See the conservation letter here.

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The Elwha: A River and a Vision Restored

 

Essayist, poet and conservationist Tim McNulty wrote a wonderful “Letter to America” about the hope of the Elwha dam removal. Thanks to Tim and Terrain.org for their efforts to protect, respect and conserve our Olympic Peninsula.

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Navy Special Ops Comments Submitted

The Olympic Forest Coalition and the West Coast Action Alliance submitted comments on March 22, objecting to the Navy’s Environmental Assessment for the Naval Special Operations EA-EV21.AW, Training in Washington State Parks. The Navy’s EA is inadequate and, if training is allowed to go forward as presented, represents serious risk to endangered species and state park users. The Navy should withdraw the EA, conduct a proper analysis and present an Environmental Impact Statement for public comment and review.

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Military Control Over Public Adjacent Lands Stopped

OFCO Board Member Karen Sullivan, co-founder of the West Coast Action Alliance (WCAA), led OFCO advocacy to stop a bill that would have turned land use control and incompatibility decision-making authority over to the military, on public and private lands that not only are adjacent to military bases but also throughout the state. Sullivan and others said, “By outlawing all land uses that may be incompatible with present or future missions of United States military installations, the bill presents an ‘inverse condemnation’ of property, where the government takes property without compensating for it. This bill violates Article 1, Section 18, of the Washington State Constitution. It would have enormous consequences for Washington and for conservation.” The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kristine Reeves, who is also the DOD-paid executive director of the Washington Military Alliance, did not pass. A companion Senate bill also failed. Sullivan, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist, has led WCAA and OFCO’s work to ensure that military operations on the Olympic Peninsula and associated marine waters do not further endanger species like the Marbled Murrelet, orcas and salmon.

Karen was recently featured in a movie about the impacts of the Navy Growler jets in our area, Plane Truths. WCAA and OFCO are encouraging you also to comment on an open EA allowing the Navy to expand military training to 65 Washington state parks and 265 miles of shoreline, much of which is private land. Comments are due March 23; see WCAA model comment letter and how to commentSee Karen’s Op Ed in The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader on the plan.