Falls View Campground, Olympic National Forest – Patricia Jones
July and August will be hot in Washington, D.C., for federal forests. The U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2) in a close, rancorous partisan vote of 213–211. Washington’s delegation voted along party lines with Olympic Peninsula Reps. Kilmer voting against and Herrera Beutler for the bill.
The House version included provisions for federal forests that weakened environmental protections. The Forestry title would allow unprecedented increases in categorical exclusions from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and analysis for parcels up to 6,000 acres for several management activities (wildfire risk, hazardous fuels reduction, forest restoration, forest infrastructure projects, special use permits). “Collaborative” projects not already excluded from environmental review would require only two alternatives to be analyzed—the “no action” and proposed action—rather than reasonable alternatives to protect the environment and mitigate harm.
Without NEPA review, the scope and scale of harvest activities will not be evaluated by the public to ensure that the project does not harm the environment. The bill also sets limits on courts for injunctive relief. The bill abolishes the “Roadless Rule” protections for all national lands systems in Alaska. The bill establishes NEPA categorical exclusions for a “pilot project” for all lands in Lincoln, Cibola and Gila National Forests in New Mexico, and establishes arbitration for dispute resolution. In conference with the Senate, these provisions will be open to change.
The Senate Farm Bill was drafted and passed in a bipartisan effort with a vote of 86 to 11 and contained none of the environmental protection rollbacks found in the House bill.
The Senate and House will go into conference on the Farm Bill after the July recess to come to agreement. The agreed bill will go back to each chamber for passage, and then to the president in September. The Farm Bill provisions will set policy for federal forests until 2023. There will be advocacy opportunities in July and August on the Farm Bill to ensure that strong protections for our federal forests are in place for the next five years. Be ready to contact your elected officials and to pass on action alerts to friends, colleagues and families in other states as the action unfolds this summer.
B.C. First Nations and Conservationists to B.C. Premier:
No Salmon Net Pen Lease Renewal
British Columbia First Nations led the effort to stop salmon net pen operations in their territories to protect the wild salmon in the Salish Sea. OFCO joined Our Sound, Our Salmon coalition members to sign on to a letter requesting that B.C. Premier Hogan not renew the 20 leases that were due to expire in B.C.
Noted scientist Alexandra Morton’s take on the decision: Ministers and B.C. government acknowledged problems with diseased salmon and impacts on wild salmon, moved leases to “month by month” instead of renewing for a full term. It is unclear if the decision gives leases four more years of operation or if First Nations will actually have a say to stop net pens operating in their territories with diseased fish.
Members of the ‘Namgis First Nation stand in protest of a ship transferring one million Atlantic salmon smolts to Marine Harvest’s Swanson Island Farm. Days before this photo was taken, the Canadian Federal Court dismissed the First Nation’s court bid to block the restocking of the open-net salmon farm in its traditional territories off northern Vancouver Island, claiming that the ‘Namgis had filed their application ‘too late,’ but admitting that there was a ‘real and non-speculative likelihood of harm’ from the net pen operation. Photo: Alexandra Morton
Marbled Murrelet, Northern Spotted Owl, Climate Change and Federal Forests
The U.S. Forest Service published their final science synthesis report for the update of the Northwest Forest Plan,
The report includes chapters on the Marbled Murrelet, Northern Spotted Owl, climate change (Vol. 1), other species and aquatic lands (Vol. 2), and tribes, cultural values and environmental justice (Vol. 3). In three volumes, the survey covers science by the Forest Service, federal agencies, tribes and universities since 1994 when the Northwest Forest Plan was enacted. The science will help lay the foundation for federal forests on the Olympic Peninsula and the 16 other forests in Western Washington, Oregon and Northern California. The area covers 24 million acres of public lands.
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.
What happens when the world’s largest user of fossil fuels fails to fully disclose its contributions to air pollution, respiratory diseases and climate change? What would you say to the fact that in a draft environmental impact statement (EIS), the U.S. Navy analyzed the exhaust emissions of only 36 of its 160-jet fleet of EA-18G Growler jets, and that the analysis covered only takeoffs and landings?
Emissions from Naval flight operations beyond about six miles from the corners of each runway are not analyzed. Greenhouse gases for takeoffs and landings are listed in the EIS but are not added up, so if readers want to know the totals, they have to do the math themselves.
Please read the full, well-researched article by Karen Sullivan here.