AWR Blog

Roadless Plan Faces Likely Vote in Congress

To: All Activists
From: Steve Holmer

The Bush Administration and Western Republicans in Congress may try to roll back the roadless area protection policy to allow for new oil and gas development, commercial logging and road construction. The Bush Administration has not indicated if they will try to directly undo the rule by going through the same extensive public process that established the plan.

cp_hoodooOpponents of roadless area protection in Congress have several options available to stop the policy including a rider or a never before used provision from the “Contract on America” that allows Congress to overturn new regulations they don’t like. Under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), if both the House and Senate pass a resolution of disapproval and it is signed by the President, the roadless policy would be gone. Other possible legislative vehicles include the budget reconciliation bill or a new energy development bill that Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) is expected to introduce next month.

Whatever the scenario, we need at least 51 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House to ensure that the roadless policy will not be overturned. If Congress is going to use the SBREFA law, they must act within sixty legislative days. This means a SBREFA vote must happen by April or May (depending on the congressional schedule) but it could come much sooner, so we need to act fast.

Now is the time to act to ensure your that Representative and Senators will support the final roadless policy. Please contact your Representative and Senators by calling or writing, and urge them to support the roadless area protection policy. You can call (202) 224-3121 or write Your Rep., Washington, D.C. 20515 or Your Senator, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.

One argument the opponents of roadless protection are using is that this was a last- minute rulemaking by President Clinton without any public involvement. Please remind them that the roadless policy has taken years of public involvement to produce, including 1.6 million public comments (overwhelmingly in favor of protection), 600 public hearings where over 23,000 thousand citizens testified, years of study by the Forest Service (since the 1970s) and recent congressional action to cut off funding for road construction in roadless areas (starting in the mid-90s).

If you were involved with the roadless process to any degree (attended a hearing or submitted a comment), please tell the environmental staffer you speak with about your experiences.

We would also be interested in hearing back from you what your elected officials tell you about their roadless position and any concerns that they may have expressed. You can call me at (202) 547-9105 or email me at wafcdc@americanlands.org Thanks for all your efforts.

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