Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following
statement today following the Bush Administration refusal late last week to
designate any new wilderness areas in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska
and the introduction of the Presidents plan on air pollution and energy.
The Bush Administration continues to demonstrate that it is clinging to an outdated approach to the environment.
The Administration has refused to designate any new wilderness areas in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska. Even though the Tongass encompasses broad swaths of ancient rainforest that are open to logging, the Administration will not give a single additional tree permanent protection from logging and road building. And an anti-environmental rider included in the fiscal year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill signed into law last month prevents the courts from reviewing the decision.
The U.S. Forest Service is living in the past: even from a strictly economic perspective, logging is not the best use of the Tongass. Because of the decline in prices for pulp wood, the pulp mills in the Tongass are closed. In the meantime, tourism and outdoor industries are booming around the country. Americans want to experience nature - through hiking, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, and cruise excursions, we are setting out to spend time in our nations parks and wildernesses. These activities are far more compatible with the long-term preservation of ecosystems and wildlife.
Also now Republicans in Congress have introduced the Presidents proposals on air pollution and energy. As with the Tongass, these proposals look more to the past than the future. The so-called Clear Skies bill would allow more air pollution than the Clean Air Act in its current form, and it fails to address carbon dioxide emissions that are causing global warming. Republicans in the House introduced energy legislation that would fail to reduce our heavy dependence on fossil fuels and imported oil.
President Bush says he stands for clean air and clean water, but his Administrations actions send a different message. Its time to turn toward the 21st century and recognize that with new ideas and technologies, we do not have to choose between prosperity and a healthy environment.
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