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Letter to the Editor: Beware forest bill

— Beware forest bill

To the editor:

People concerned about the environment should not be swayed by our congressman, Greg Walden, in his support of House Resolution 1526. Steve Pedery, conservation director of Oregon Wild, says this resolution will essentially privatize 1.6 million acres of former Oregon and California Railroad lands in western Oregon.

“Under the guise of funding county governments, this bill would transfer these millions of acres into ‘Forest Reserve Revenue Areas’ so they can be managed exclusively for logging, mining, drilling and other destructive development. Worse, the legislation severely restricts the rights of Americans to have a voice in how their own public lands are managed and circumvents federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

Sen. Ron Wyden has expressed concerns about privatizing public lands and relying on logging revenue to fund county budgets. As pointed out in The Chronicle’s article, “Walden: Forest bill is lifeline,” this bill would put these lands “beyond the reach of federal environmental laws.” Hopefully, Wyden can craft a better bill to address these issues of funding county governments and addressing forest health.

Rep. Walden is one of 250 Republican House and Senate members who have signed onto the Koch brothers’ climate obstruction pledge.

According to Jane Mayer in an article she wrote for The New Yorker, this pledge “essentially commits those who sign it to vote against any meaningful bill regarding global warming and acts as yet another roadblock to action.”

Koch Industries’ annual revenues top $110 billion, making the brothers two of the richest people on earth.

According to EDF (Environmental Defense Action Fund), their refineries have emitted over 24 million tons of carbon dioxide per year — the same amount emitted by 5 million cars! EDF says, “You can follow their money trail to the steps of Congress.” More than two-thirds of the freshman members of Congress who signed the anti-climate pledge had accepted money from the Koch brothers’ political action committee.

It is hard for me to believe that Congressman Walden’s only intention in backing HR 1526 is to support Oregon’s forest health and provide much-needed funding for county government and rural communities, given that he has singed the climate obstruction pledge. I am hoping Sen. Wyden can craft a better bill and include environmental protections for all Oregonians.

John Nelson

The Dalles

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