Denny Heck joins Republicans in Weakening Environmental Protections for Public Lands

Last week, Denny Heck joined the Republicans and 69 Democrats in the House to put corporate profits over the people and the environment yet again in voting for H.R. 1873, the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, a regressive bill that weakens environmental protections on public lands. According to progressive Congressman Raul Grijalva(AR-3), the real purpose of this bill is to “chip away at the National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA; shut expert Federal agencies and concerned citizens out of the land management process; and allow Big Business to profit at the expense of taxpayers and our public lands.” A broad coalition of environmental organizations opposed to the bill, including the Sierra Club, the Western Environmental Law Center, and EarthJustice, called it “yet another attack on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its fundamental tenet of informed decision making and public involvement in project approval.”

Specifically, the bill weakens environmental laws for managing public lands under power lines and other rights-of-way by expediting the approval process and closing opportunities for review and public input on vegetation management plans. Under the proposed law, if a company (like Puget Sound Energy) claims it needs to clear-cut a half mile into a national forest to protect power lines, this bill would allow it, and the Forest Service couldn’t stop them, and then the company would be allowed to turn around and sell the timber harvested.

According to Brett Hartl of the Center for Biological Diversity, the bill would also “kill innovative efforts to protect millions of acres of wildlife habitat from dangerous herbicides,” which is the cheap and dirty method typically used for vegetation management under power lines. “Innovative programs are now turning rights-of-way into habitat for rare animals and plants and decreasing threats to wildlife. But LaMalfa’s bill categorically excludes a review of alternatives, including ways to reduce harmful herbicides, which means such beneficial approaches would not be considered. “

This bill is yet another example of why we need to Get the Heck Out of Congress and elect independent progressive Tamborine Borelli to represent us in Washington’s CD-10. Unlike Heck who is bankrolled by corporate money, Tamborine is a true progressive who rejects corporate money, will stand up to corporate power, and fight for the progressive society that most Americans want.

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