Pain in the Tongass
Moderate Republicans, as well as Democrats and environmentalists, are up in arms over eleventh-hour language added by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to a huge $395 billion spending bill that would boost logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The provision would exempt nearly 2 million acres in the Tongass from a rule approved by former President Clinton that bans road-building on 58.5 million acres of remote national forestland across the country. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (N.Y.) and seven other GOPers in the House have protested the plan (which contains additional anti-enviro elements), arguing in a letter to their colleagues that it was drafted “behind closed doors.” For his part, Stevens has angrily accused environmentalists of distorting his provision. Many congressional observers doubt that the plan will be derailed.