Swimming in Deficits, Congress Makes Welfare Handouts to Timber Corporations
|May 20, 2005||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Corporate Welfare Handouts to Timber Corporations
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
Amid Huge Deficits, Congress Still Spending on Welfare Handouts to Corporations
Members of the timber industry are just about the only people in the world for whom money does indeed grow on trees. Whats more, if youre logging in Alaskas Tongass National Forest, Uncle Sam will pay millions of dollars out of his own pocket to build roads to give you access to his money trees. Money trees and roads paved with someone elses gold. For Alaskas timber industry, things cant get much better, but for taxpayers, things could hardly get worse.
Subsidies to the timber industry are nothing new. The US Forest Service routinely builds roads through our national forests to give timber companies access to new sources of timber. In doing so, they spend an enormous amount of taxpayer money for little or no return.
Since 1982, the Tongass timber program has lost an astonishing $850 million. In 2004 alone, the Forest Service lost almost $48 million in the Tongass, spending more than $48 million on its timber program and receiving less than $800,000 in revenue. Despite these continued losses and a daunting $100 million road-maintenance backlog, the Forest Service is once again ramping up Tongass road building and timber sales.
In the face of a worldwide timber glut, demand for Alaskan timber has plummeted. Between fiscal years (FY) 1998 and 2004, nearly 50 percent of the Forest Services timber contracts offered went without a single bid. Of those sold, 70 percent received only one bid. In FY 2004, only 45.7 million board feet (MMBF) were cut in the Tongass.
Instead of responding to a declining market, the Forest Service continues to ignore the economic realities of the timber industry. The Forest Services annual timber demand estimates are comically exaggerated, ranging from three to seven times the past three-year average annual logging level of 44 MMBF. In order to meet these inflated estimates, the Forest Service expends millions preparing wasteful sales and building roads to nowhere.
Last year, the House of Representatives voted to end this enormous corporate subsidy, passing an amendment that prohibited further road building in the Tongass. Unfortunately, the amendment was eliminated in the final version of the legislation. As early as this week, Representatives will get a second chance to send a message to the administration about this expensive subsidy program.
Unfortunately, the amendment has made powerful enemies. Proponents of road building in the Tongass are offering enticements and threatening penalties to get undecided legislators to vote their way. Representatives should resist these cynical vote buying strategies and evaluate road building on its merits. Taxpayers deserve better than to have their money squandered on handouts for big industry.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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