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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
R E P O R T
[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.
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
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
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
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
Barry B. Anderson
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
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
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
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing
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 of Representatives,
Committee on Resources,
Washington, DC, October 30, 2000.
Hon. Larry Combest,
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, Longworth House Office Building,
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
House of Representatives,
Committee on Agriculture,
Washington, DC, November 1, 2000.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources, Longworth House Office Building,
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
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.