Obama Administration Cuts Both Ways

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Michael Crocker
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Obama Administration Cuts Both Ways

Vilsack Approves Roadless Logging in Alaska; Salazar Stops Oregon Old-Growth Logging Plan

SAN FRANCISCO - In contradicting moves today, the Obama
administration’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior
made major announcements to protect and degrade roadless wildlands.

Secretary
of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced plans to allow logging and
road-building in a roadless wildland bordering the Misty Fjords
National Monument in Alaska. By green-lighting the Orion timber sale in
the Tongass National Forest, hundreds of acres of temperate rainforest
will be clearcut and new logging roads will slice into pristine Alaskan
wildlands.

It
is estimated the logging project will lose four times as much taxpayer
money as it generates from timber sales at a time when the federal
budget deficit is ballooning under strain from the economic crisis.

Flying
squarely in the face of public opinion, the move sets a dangerous
precedent allowing the first logging in roadless wildlands since the
Bush administration. Greenpeace ispursuing legal action to stop the
Orion timber sale.

On
the same day, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar withdrew what the
Interior Department called a “legally flawed” Bush-era logging plan for
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forests in Oregon. The sweeping
proposal, called the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) would have
slashed environmental safeguards across 2.6 million acres of public
forest lands. The WOPR proposed the logging of thousands of acres of
old-growth forests, including the largest unprotected roadless forest
on BLM lands in the nation – the 46,000 acre Zane Grey Roadless Area.
In 2004, Greenpeace set up a Forest Rescue Station near the Zane Grey
and carried out aseries of actions to protest the WOPR. Greenpeace is
also plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the legality ofthe WOPR.

“The
Obama Administration can’t have it both ways,” said Rolf Skar, senior
forest campaigner with Greenpeace. “President Obama needs to decide if
he will follow the Bush administration down the path of roadless area
destruction, or protect roadless wildlands like the American people
want him to.”

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

On
the campaign trail, Obama supported the popular Roadless Area
Conservation Rule created by the Clinton administration. To date, the
federal government has received more than 2.5 million comments on the
Roadless Rule; more than 95% of those comments favoredprotection for
roadless forests.

“The
support for protecting America’s roadless wildlands is nearly
universal” said Skar. “There is no reason the Obama administration
should be subsidizing destructive, controversial logging of America’s
last great rainforest with taxpayer dollars.”

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