A key committee in the California state Senate voted yesterday to ban clear-cutting in the state on public and private land, a move that would be unprecedented in the U.S. The ban would be lifted only if the state legislature voted to do so, after reviewing an independent study on the environmental and economic effects of clear-cutting. The committee’s 5-4 vote came amidst public outcry over the clear-cutting practices of California’s largest timber company, Sierra Pacific. The company, which owns 1 percent of the state’s land and has previously declared plans to clear-cut 70 percent of it in the next 80 years, has responded to the criticism by announcing its own 30-day suspension on some operations. But that didn’t placate the Senate Natural Resources Committee, whose plan now faces a tough hurdle in the state Senate Appropriations Committee.