PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CHALLENGED TO
TAKE "SUBSIDY-FREE" PLEDGE
Forest Activists Call for End to $1 Billion Logging Subsidy
& End to Commercial Logging on Public Lands
For Immediate Release: October 7, 1999
For information, contact:
John Talberth, Executive Director, NFPA
Tom Weis, Director of Voter Education, NFPA
Des Moines -- Today, the National Forest Protection Alliance, a national
forest protection group, challenged the presidential candidates to sign a
pledge calling for an end to the $1 billion annual federal logging
subsidy. The group wants some of these funds redirected to management
activities that protect, restore and enhance our national forest system.
The remaining funds would be eliminated for a savings to the taxpayer.
The group also called on the candidates to support the passage of
legislation introduced in Congress -- H.R. 1396, the "National Forest
Protection and Restoration Act"-- that would end commercial logging on
public lands. Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) are
principal co-sponsors of this legislation.
"The federal timber sale program subsidizes logging companies to
clear-cut our national forests at a net loss to U.S. taxpayers of over $1
billion each year," said John Talberth, Executive Director of the
National Forest Protection Alliance. "We're actually paying wealthy
corporations to destroy America's national heritage," he said.
The group pointed to numerous negative effects of the federal timber sale
program, including the degradation of our air, water and soil; the
destruction of fisheries and wildlife; and the diminishment of
recreational, tourism and other economic activities available from the
national forest system.
Benefits of the "National Forest Protection and Restoration Act" cited by
the group include the following:
. Saves taxpayers over $300 million annually
. Protects and restores America's natural heritage by ending the
commercial logging program
. Assists communities dependent on this program with economic recovery
and diversification by creating jobs and providing worker retraining for
displaced timber workers through a scientifically-based forest
. Funds development of non-wood alternatives (e.g. agricultural waste)
for pulp and paper
Other key facts cited by the group:
FACT: Trees are not needed to make paper. U.S. farmers annually generate
280 million tons of excess agricultural fiber suitable for papermaking.
Agricultural waste makes better paper than trees and is less toxic to
produce. These financial benefits to farmers cannot be fully realized as
long as timber subsidies give an unfair advantage to logging companies at
the expense of the American farmer.
FACT: Logging represents less than 3% of all jobs in our national
forests. Recreation, hunting and fishing in our national forests
generate 30 times more jobs and income than commercial logging.
FACT: Less than 4% of the wood products Americans consume comes from our
national forests. Ending logging on public lands will greatly increase
the value of private timberlands and the timber they contain.
FACT: Over 120 million Americans recycle - more than currently vote.
Subsidies to the timber industry discourage recycling and undermine local
recycling programs by forcing farmers and recycled paper manufacturers to
compete on an uneven playing field.
The group pointed to national polls showing that 69% - 75% of Americans
are opposed to logging in America's National Forests as further evidence
of widespread public support for the elimination of this government
spending program. "It's time to put an end to this fiscally irresponsible
and environmentally destructive corporate welfare program," Talberth
Locally, a poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters Education
Fund in August of 1999 showed that an overwhelming 89% of likely Iowa
party caucus attendees believe strongly that presidential candidates
should make protecting the environment a top priority. High support for
presidential candidates committed to environmental protection is
broad-based among voters identified as Republicans (82%), Democrats (94%)
and Independents (87%).
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