Showdown Over America's Rainforest For decades, the U.S Forest Service has been enabling the logging of America's only rainforest -- and one of the world's only temperate rainforests -- the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska.
Taxpayers Forced to Pay for Money-Losing Giveaways to Private Logging Companies
Here is a news update from a group called bushgreenwatch.org.
The 17 million-acre Tongass contains some of the most magnificent scenery in North America, which is why it has become a major destination for cruise ships. The Tongass is also home to a spectacular array of wildlife, including eagles, bears, wolves, wild salmon, and other fish and wildlife that have largely vanished from other parts of the U.S.
Few Americans are aware that logging in the Tongass is actually subsidized by their own tax dollars. Taxpayer money is spent to construct the logging roads that give private companies access to the forest's timber; they have no other purpose. Without these taxpayer-funded roads, no company would find it economical to cut the forest's trees.
In 2002 alone, the Forest Service spent $36 million on the Tongass logging program -- and received $1 million in revenue. Logging in the Tongass also undercuts America's moral authority to urge other countries to reduce logging in tropical rainforests, while we are logging our own.
Now, after years of battling to protect the Tongass, concerned citizens may finally be close to one of their major goals. On June 16, in a remarkable bipartisan effort, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment by a vote of 222 to 205 that would prohibit taxpayer money from being spent to build logging roads for private timber companies in the Tongass.
The action has now moved to the Senate. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has introduced an amendment to the Interior Department Appropriations bill that, like the House bill, would end taxpayer-funded logging roads in the Tongass. The bill is supported by a broad coalition of taxpayer and budget watchdog groups, sportsmen, and conservationists.
Many conservatives are also on board, opposing what they see as a blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars. McCain's bill will be vigorously opposed by Alaska's "corporate welfare queen" senators.
To take action, contact your Senators through this service provided by the American Wilderness Coalition.
Here are some previous Progress Report articles pertaining to this topic:
Corporate Welfare Queens Get Paid to Seize Public Resources
U.S. Taxpayers Pay to Have Their National Forests Logged, Depleted
Corporate Welfare Handouts to Private Timber Companies
Timber Industry Evading Natural Resource Rents
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