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106th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                    106-1021

======================================================================



 
                  PUBLIC FORESTS EMERGENCY ACT OF 1999

                                _______
                                

October 31, 2000.--Committed to the Committee of the White House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 1524]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 1524) to authorize the continued use on public lands of 
the expedited processes successfully used for windstorm-damaged 
national forests and grasslands in Texas, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend 
that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 1524 is to authorize the continued use 
of public lands of the expedited processes successfully used 
for windstorm-damaged national forests and grasslands in Texas.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    On February 10, 1998, an exceptionally strong windstorm 
damaged 103,000 acres of Forest Service land in the Sabine, 
Angelina and Sam Houston National Forests. This windstorm 
damaged 297 million board feet of timber. Some of the damaged 
areas were home to the red-cockaded woodpecker, a federally-
listed endangered species.
    The National Forests and Grasslands in Texas (NFGT) is the 
U.S. Forest Service branch office responsible for management of 
the three national forests damaged in the windstorm. NFGT 
wanted to clear away the damaged timber, an action which 
triggered an environmental review under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). NFGT 
consulted with the federal Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ), which implements NEPA, for an alternative arrangement. 
Existing federal regulations at 40 CFR 1506.11 provide for such 
an alternative in emergency situations. The NFGT believed that 
the time period needed for a traditional NEPA analysis of the 
environmental impacts of the proposed federal action would 
negatively affect the forests, wildlife and private property. 
Specifically, NFGT feared that failure to act expeditiously 
would result in severe wildfires, bark beetle infestations, and 
the loss of a sub-population of red-cockaded woodpeckers. CEQ 
agreed that these conditions qualified as an emergency. As a 
result, CEQ required the U.S. Forest Service to prepare an 
environmental assessment, consult with the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act, hold some 
form of a public involvement process, and then remove only 
downed, dead or severely root-sprung trees. This process 
allowed removal activities to begin months sooner than would 
have been possible under the normal NEPA process.
    It should be noted that CEQ does not have consistent 
requirements for the use of alternative arrangements under 40 
CFR 1506.11. It has granted alternative arrangements 30 times 
since 1980. Of those 30 cases, CEQ has granted only three 
alternative arrangements to the U.S. Forest Service. The 
majority of these alternative arrangements were granted for 
immediate public safety or public health concerns. The Texas 
situation is the only alternative arrangement ever granted 
which allowed for the removal of timber.
    Several other national forests should be granted similar 
treatment. For example, at the time H.R. 1524 was introduced, 
there were approximately 3,900 acres of spruce beetle-infested 
lands within the Kenai Quadrangle in Alaska, approximately 
30,000 acres of spruce-beetle-infested lands in the Chugach 
National Forest in Alaska, approximately 100,000 acres of ice 
storm-damaged and Douglas fir bark beetle-infested lands in the 
Colville National Forest in the State of Washington and the 
Idaho-Panhandle National Forest in Idaho, and approximately 
50,000 acres of fire-damaged and spruce budworm-infested lands 
in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon.
    Other forests listed in the bill that have had similar 
catastrophic events recently are the Black Hills National 
Forest in South Dakota; the National Forest System lands in the 
Tahoe Basin of California; the Allegheny National Forest in 
Pennsylvania; the Homochitto, Desoto and Tombigbee National 
Forests in Mississippi; George Washington and Jefferson 
National Forests in Virginia; the Ouachita National Forest in 
the State of Arkansas; the Kisatchie National Forest in 
Louisiana; the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina; the 
Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky; the Bankhead National 
Forest in Alabama; the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee; 
and the National Forest System lands in Florida. In these 
areas, forest managers are concerned about the possibility of 
insect infestations spreading to adjacent forests, wildlife and 
additional loss of wildlife habitat.
    H.R. 1524 would require the Secretary of the Interior and 
the Secretary of Agriculture to consider certain federal areas 
for removal of dead, downed or severely root-sprung trees under 
the expedited processes granted for the national forests and 
grasslands in Texas in March 1998; grant the Secretaries 90 
days to either approval or disapprove expedited processes; and 
require the Secretaries to submit a report to Congress 
describing the specific reasons for approval or disapproval.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    Congressman Helen Chenoweth introduced H.R. 1524 on April 
22, 1999. The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources 
and within the Committee to the Subcommittee on Forests and 
Forest Health. The Subcommittee had held a hearing on a draft 
version of the bill on March 23, 1999 (Printed Hearing 106-19). 
On April 27, 1999, the Subcommittee met to consider the bill. 
No amendments were offered and the bill was ordered favorably 
reported to the Full Committee by a rollcall vote of 8 to 6, as 
follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Republicans               Yea       Nay     Present       Democrats         Nay       Yea     Present
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chenoweth......................        X   ........  .........  Smith............        X   ........  .........
Duncan.........................        X   ........  .........  Kildee...........        X   ........  .........
Doolittle......................        X   ........  .........  Picket...........  ........  ........  .........
Gilchrest......................  ........  ........  .........  Kind.............  ........  ........  .........
Peterson.......................        X   ........  .........  Napolitano.......        X   ........  .........
Hill...........................        X   ........  .........  Tom Udall........        X   ........  .........
Schaffer.......................        X   ........  .........  Mark Udall.......        X   ........  .........
Sherwood.......................        X   ........  .........  Crowley..........        X   ........  .........
Hayes..........................        X   ........  .........
Total Republicans..............        8   ........  .........  Total Democrats..        6   ........  .........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On June 9, 1999, the Full Resources Committee met to 
consider the bill. No amendments were offered and the bill was 
ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives by a 
rollcall vote of 21 to 8, as follows:


            committee oversight findings and recommendations

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   constitutional authority statement

    Article I, section 8 and Article IV, section 3 of the 
Constitution of the United States grant Congress the authority 
to enact this bill.

                    compliance with house rule xiii

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, credit 
authority, or an increase or decrease in tax expenditures. 
According to the Congressional Budget Office, enactment of this 
bill could affect direct spending by changing offsetting 
receipts, but ``CBO does not expect that enacting the bill 
would lead to a significant change in the amount or timing of 
offsetting receipts.''
    3. Government Reform Oversight Findings. Under clause 
3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee has received no report of 
oversight findings and recommendations from the Committee on 
Government Reform on this bill.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, June 22, 1999.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1524, the Public 
Forests Emergency Act of 1999.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Victoria Heid 
Hall.
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 1524--Public Forests Emergency Act of 1999

    CBO estimates that H.R. 1524 would have no significant 
effect on the federal budget. The bill would require the 
Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to request from the 
appropriate officials in the executive branch the authority to 
remove in an expedited manner dead or damaged trees on about 
247,000 acres of federal land. The bill would require the 
officials considering the Secretaries' requests to consider 
them promptly and either approve or disapprove them. H.R. 1524 
would require the officials to report to the Congress on the 
reasons for their decision within 90 days of receiving a 
request from the Secretaries.
    According to the Departments of Agriculture and the 
Interior, the Secretaries can request the authority to remove 
dead or damaged trees in an expedited manner under current law, 
but they have chosen not to do so because they do not believe 
the expedited removal authority is warranted for the land 
specified in the bill. Requiring the Secretaries to request 
expedited removal authority would impose additional 
administrative costs on the agencies, but if expedited 
authority were granted it also could reduce the agencies' costs 
for environmental reviews. CBO estimates that the net change in 
administrative costs would be negligible. Once the Secretaries 
request expedited removal authority as required by the bill, 
the appropriate officials (such as the head of the Council on 
Environmental Quality) may or may not decide to grant such 
authority. If they do, implementing H.R. 1524 could increase 
the amount or change the timing of offsetting receipts 
generated from the removal of dead or dying trees. Because H.R. 
1524 could affect direct spending (by changing offsetting 
receipts), pay-as-you-go procedures would apply. However, CBO 
does not expect that enacting the bill would lead to a 
significant change in the amount or timing of offsetting 
receipts.
    H.R. 1524 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would have no significant impact on the budgets of state, 
local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact is Victoria Heid Hall. This estimate 
was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy Assistant Director 
for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    We share the Administration's strong opposition to this 
misguided and unnecessary legislation. H.R. 1524 would require 
that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 
request that the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 
consider approving expedited National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) procedures for salvage logging on approximately 250,000 
acres of national forest lands in 13 areas and one 3,900-acre 
BLM land area. Although the Majority misrepresents the bill as 
merely requiring the Secretaries to examine certain lands to 
consider whether expedited processes should be used--an 
authority they already have--the bill actually bypasses the 
local land managers and the Secretaries, and requires a 
decision by the White House. This bill would undercut the 
regular NEPA process and have the Congress substitute its 
judgment for that of the land management agencies about what 
salvage logging ``emergencies'' require CEQ micro-management. 
It is ironic indeed that the Republican sponsors propose to 
give such trust and responsibility to the White House.
    This bill was introduced shortly before markup and contains 
a new set of ``emergency'' areas--nine new or revised areas--
that have never been the subject of a hearing. Neither the 
majority nor the public have been provided a map of the areas 
in which acres are enumerated in the bill. Thus, the bill is 
too vague to implement. Even if it were clear where the areas 
are physically located, it is unclear how these acres were 
chosen. No testimony, report, or scientific argument serves as 
the basis for this seemingly randon selection of acreage and 
forests. Furthermore, given that nearly a year and a half has 
passed between mark-up and the filing of the report, it is even 
less likely that these areas, assuming they could be 
identified, constitute ``emergency'' areas.
    The bill is ill-advised and unnecessary, placing Congress 
in the position of choosing what national forest 
``emergencies'' need to be referred to CEQ. It also overrides 
the expertise of on-the-ground land managers and local 
government officials who are consulted on the decision to refer 
emergency problems to CEQ. The system whereby land managers 
decide whether to seek expedited NEPA arrangements from CEQ is 
already in place and working for true emergencies. None of the 
land managers responsible for the areas listed in the bill have 
determined that the situations they confront rise to the level 
of emergency contemplated by NEPA to warrant bypassing public 
processes. The net effect of the bill will be fourteen CEQ 
reports to Congress explaining why expedited NEPA procedures 
are not necessary.
    Over the past two decades, CEQ has approved alternative 
arrangements on only thirty occasions for all federal agencies. 
The Forest Service and CEQ have used the emergency provision on 
only three occasions since 1978 and only once to allow salvage 
logging. With a limited staff and budget, CEQ is ill-equipped 
to routinely manage every situation that may justify salvage 
logging. This bill would place an unreasonable burden on CEQ 
and detract from resources better devoted to real environmental 
problems and true emergencies. It should be rejected by the 
House.

                                                     George Miller.

                        committee correspondence

                          House of Representatives,
                                    Committee on Resources,
                                  Washington, DC, October 30, 2000.
Hon. Larry Combest,
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, Longworth House Office Building, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: On June 9, 1999, the Committee on 
Resources ordered reported H.R. 1524, the Public Forests 
Emergency Act of 1999. This bill authorizes the continued use 
on public lands of the expedited environmental review processes 
under the National Environmental Policy Act successfully used 
for windstorm-damaged national forests and grasslands in Texas. 
Before the 106th Congress adjourns, I wish to file the report 
on this bill. Although it was referred only to the Committee on 
Resources, I believe the Committee on Agriculture has a 
jurisdictional interest in the bill. I request that we 
memorialize this through an exchange of letters rather than 
having you seek a sequential referral of the bill at this late 
date. Copies of our correspondence will be made part of the 
committee bill report, and I concur that the Committee on 
Agriculture's jurisdiction over the subject matter of the bill 
is not affected by its failure to seek a sequential referral.
    Thank you once again for your extraordinary cooperation 
this Congress and the assistance of Lance Kotschwar and Dave 
Tenny of your staff. They have served you well and have made 
our work improving our national forests both efficient and 
effective.
            Sincerely,
                                                 Don Young,
                                                          Chairman.
                                ------                                

                          House of Representatives,
                                  Committee on Agriculture,
                                  Washington, DC, November 1, 2000.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources, Longworth House Office Building, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for forwarding a draft copy of 
the Committee report to accompany H.R. 1524, a bill to 
authorize the continued use on public lands of the expedited 
processes successfully used for windstorm-damaged national 
forests and grasslands in Texas, as ordered reported by your 
Committee.
    Under clause 1(a) of Rule X, the Committee on Agriculture 
has jurisdiction over bills relating to forestry in general and 
forest reserves other than those created from the public 
domain. In exercising this jurisdiction, the Committee on 
Agriculture has worked cooperatively in the past with your 
Committee regarding general matters relating to forestry.
    Knowing that we have only a few days at most remaining in 
the 106th Congress, the Committee on Agriculture will agree to 
waive jurisdiction and will not seek a sequential referral. In 
doing so, the Committee on Agriculture does not waive any 
future jurisdiction claim over this or similar measures, and 
reserves the right to seek appropriate representation in the 
even the measure should go to conference.
    Once again, I greatly appreciate your cooperative spirit in 
which you have worked regarding this matter and others between 
our respective committees.
            Sincerely,
                                             Larry Combest,
                                                          Chairman.