The Westerman Bill (HR 2936), also known as the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, was OK’d by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, November 1st, 2017, by a vote of 232-188. It is 1 of the 80 total bills introduced in the first 4 months of the 115th Congress that attacks national forests, weakens environmental safeguards or proposes to turn control of public lands over to state and local governments.
HR 2936 exempts logging actions affecting 10,000 acres or less from environmental analysis or public review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Plans developed collaboratively with area stakeholders, in addition, could skip additional regulatory hurdles if they involve 30,000 acres or less. Finally, the bill would prevent recoupment of attorney’s fees for those who sue to block forest management plans and/or activities.
Under the guise of reducing forest fires, HR 2936 constitutes a significant blow to the landmark of environmental law (NEPA) by greatly increasing the amount of national forests that can be logged without public input or judicial review. If passed by Senate, the bill would significantly roll back measures designed to protect old growth forests, weaken protections for waterways and water quality on national forest lands and promote harmful logging in otherwise protected roadless areas. In light of the fact that 3/4ths of the total landmass of the Chattooga River watershed is located on national forest lands, local implications could prove to be disastrous.
Take action: Help ensure that HR 2936 does not survive. Call your U.S. Senate representative and ask them to VOTE NO on HR 2936. You can also reach out to your senator on social media and ask him/her to do the right thing and oppose HR 2936 and its damaging provisions.