Green Scissors '99 Logo

Table of Contents

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 Energy Section
Energy Section

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 Public Lands Section
Public Lands Section

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 Water Section
Water Section

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 Agriculture Section
Agriculture Section

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 Transportation Section
Transportation Section

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 International Section
International Section

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 Insurance Section
Insurance Section

Advance to the Green Scissors '99 Miscellaneous Section
Miscellaneous Section

Green Scissors '99 Washington State Report

Friends of the Earth

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Click here to download the Green Scissors '99 Report

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Public Lands

5 Year Savings
in $ Millions
1872 Mining Law $ 1,000
Bureau of Land Management Public Domain Forestry $ 30
Film Industry Use of National Parks $ n/a
Timber Roads Construction $ 157
Money-Losing Timber Sales $ 555
Oil Royalty Valuation $ 330
Rangeland Reform $ 250
Recreational Trails Program $ 120
Tongass National Forest $ 165
University of Alaska Land Grab $ n/a
US Forest Service "Replanting Fund" $ 250
US Forest Service Salvage Fund $ 1715

Granddaddy of Subsidies

$1 billion

1872 Mining Law

"Until Congress steps forward to enact meaningful reform of this law, I must continue to give away America’s mineral resources for unfair return to the taxpayers."

Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, April 28, 1998

The General Mining Law of 1872, which governs mining on U.S. public lands, is an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars. Under the 1872 Mining Law, mining companies not only extract minerals without paying royalties, but also can "patent," or buy public land for $5 an acre or less, paying 1872 prices for land that is worth billions of dollars. Each year, mining corporations extract $2 billion to $3 billion worth of minerals from public lands and pay no royalties. The archaic 1872 Mining Law not only distorts the market, it facilitates massive environmental destruction on public lands.

Green Scissors Proposal

1) Require fair market return to taxpayers for extraction of publicly-owned minerals. A royalty of 8 percent could raise roughly $1 billion over five years. 2) Eliminate mineral patenting, the giveaway of public lands. This would save at least $10 billion in potential new patents waiting to be filed. 3) Require companies to post adequate reclamation bonds and establish a national program to clean up abandoned mines.

Current Status

In 1994, Congress imposed an annual moratorium on patenting, blocking billions of dollars worth of public lands giveaways, but hundreds of patents already in the process may proceed. More recent efforts to enact a mineral royalty and create an abandoned mine reclamation program have been blocked in Congress. In 1998, the Senate rejected a bipartisan amendment offered by Sens. Dale Bumpers (D-AR) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) to repeal the percentage depletion allowance for public lands mining. According to the Office of Management and Budget, repeal of this corporate subsidy for non-fuel minerals mined on public lands would generate $294 million over the next five years.

Value of Historic Mineral Giveaways

Project Hurt Taxpayers

Since the law was enacted, the U.S. government has given away more than $245 billion of mineral reserves through patenting or royalty-free mining, according to the Mineral Policy Center. The subsidies embedded in public lands mining, along with the percentage depletion tax allowance, create false incentives for miners and hinder sound land management. Free-market advocates might favor a competitive-bid leasing system, which would be one way to recover a fair return to taxpayers.

Project Hurts the Environment

Mining can severely and permanently damage public lands. Nationally, more than 550,000 abandoned hardrock mines scar the American landscape. Mineral Policy Center estimates the cost of such cleanups currently at $32 billion to $72 billion.

Contacts

Susan Brackett, Mineral Policy Center, (202) 887-1872; Lexi Shultz, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, (202) 546-9707; Jill Lancelot, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x105.

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Cutting a Sweet Deal

$30 million

BLM’s Public Domain Forestry

"BLM’s logging program on public domain lands consistently operates at a significant loss to American taxpayers. Its lasting legacy of mismanagement has led to overcutting, resulting in the devastation of millions of acres of vital woodlands."

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages more than 12 million acres of commercial forests on public domain lands. The agency fails to return 20 percent of its timber revenues to the federal Treasury, as required by law, to cover the cost of sale administration due to contract defaults and the diversion of funds to other purposes. The agency’s fiscally mismanaged logging program jeopardizes natural resources and wildlife habitat.

Green Scissors Proposal

Terminate funding for the Bureau of Land Management’s Public Domain Forestry program, saving taxpayers more than $30 million over five years.

Current Status

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reviewed forestry activities related to the BLM’s timbercutting program in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California — the states where more than 85 percent of the sales occur. Aside from fiscal waste, PEER has documented other evidence of agency malpractice involving widespread violations of environmental laws and internal procedures.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

Payments by timber purchasers fail to cover the agency’s timber sale costs. BLM districts routinely lose money on sales because public domain forests are relatively unproductive, and therefore are less attractive commercially to timber buyers. Most of the proceeds from Public Domain timber sales are earmarked by the BLM for other purposes such as irrigation. The few timber receipts returned to the federal government are offset by overhead costs. Some districts spend millions of dollars to prepare and administer sales, but collect less than 10 percent of these costs from the timber sales. Through a combination of negligence by BLM and fraud perpetrated against the agency, as much as half of the timber harvested from public domain lands is stolen by logging companies. In some cases, purchasers have taken up to five times the contract volume of timber without payment.

Annual losses from BLM Public Domain timber sales roughly equal the forestry program’s entire budget. Despite the fact that program expenditures out-pace operating costs, the agency has received a 31 percent increase in funding over the last two years.

Project Hurts the Environment

BLM’s actions jeopardize the public domain. Public domain lands consist largely of "scrub brush" forests that serve as important ecological buffers between grazing lands and upland forests. The agency routinely exceeds sustainable levels to "get the cut out" and fails to comply with its own reforestation requirements. Many districts vastly exaggerate stocking rates, reporting healthy forested tracts when, in fact, the new trees have died from disease, insect infestation or drought. By ignoring replanting failures, BLM miscalculates productive timber acreage and presents overly optimistic sale projections, a vicious circle that leads to overcutting.

In addition to causing severe environmental harm to watersheds and wildlife habitat, BLM’s post-sale indifference means that much of the damage caused by unsustainable logging is never mitigated. Because existing forests are not timber dense, an average of nine acres must be harvested on the public domain to equal the yield from one acre of prime forest land.

Contacts

Rob Perks, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, (202) 2657337; Sean Cosgrove, Sierra Club, (202) 675-2382.

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Bargain Matinee

$n/a

Film Industry Use of National Parks

"Film makers pay location fees everywhere they work — except in National Parks."

Dick Young, Supervisor of Special Use Permits, National Park Service.

National film producers use National Park lands to film hundreds of commercials and movies. The Park Service should be allowed to charge for use of land under its control and retain the fees collected for park purposes.

Green Scissors Proposal

The National Park Service (NPS) should be given the authority to collect location fees from commercial film makers and be allowed to retain those fees within the park system.

Current Status

Under NPS regulations, film companies are only required to cover the cost of ranger supervision and any damage mitigation. While film companies are paying little, if anything, for the use of our National Parks, park visitors across the nation have this year encountered entrance fees which have doubled, even tripled. On November 9, 1997, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) introduced H.R. 2993, which would require the Park Service to charge fair-market-value filming fees and would allow the parks to keep the revenue generated. Although the legislation passed the House on September 15, 1998, previous inaction on appropriations legislation forced the bill to languish in the Senate. S. 1693, the National Parks management reform bill, did not include language on filming fees. Film producers have indicated their willingness to support National Parks through reasonable film fees.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

Commercial users do not pay their fair share. At a time when taxpayers are being asked to pay more to visit National Parks, commercial users who benefit financially from the use of the parks must be made to pay their fair share.

Production companies reap tremendous benefits from park sites. While the Park Service does not have a system that accounts for all films made in the parks, Arches National Park alone has averaged 52 film makers (including makers of commercials) per year for the last five years. Three of the hundreds of movies which have been filmed in parks (Star Wars, Forrest Gump and Return of the Jedi) have generated well over $1 billion in domestic revenues.

Other agencies come closer to charging fair market value. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service insist on location fees of up to $3,000 per day from film production companies. Private land holders demand as much as $10,000 per day, a drop in the bucket considering the standard production budget.

Project Hurts the Environment

Filming companies can disrupt wildlife movements for days or weeks, since production ties up roads and can cause the closure of portions of parks. Retaining lost revenues could help reduce the huge maintenance backlog under which the parks are operating.

Contacts

Phil Voorhees, National Parks and Conservation Association, (202) 223-6722.

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The Great Tree Robbery

$157 million

Timber Roads Construction

"For years, an unusual coalition of environmentalists and budget-conscious conservatives has been trying to end the practice of federally subsidized logging in America’s national forests, a practice that does as much damage to the government’s bottom line as it does to the environment."

Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 1998

Under the U.S Forest Service (USFS) timber program, logging roads are constructed to assist timber companies in cutting and removing timber. Historically, the agency has paid for the construction of hundreds of thousands of miles of these roads. Construction of these forest roads exploits tax dollars to pay the timber industry’s business costs and leads to the degradation of wildlife habitat, soil, and streams.

Green Scissors Proposal

Cut all funding for construction, planning and design of new logging roads, saving $31.4 million annually or $157 million over 5 years.

Current Status

In 1998, both House and Senate Appropriators agreed to eliminate the "Purchaser Road Credit" (PRC) from the FY99 Interior budget. The PRC program enabled timber corporations to receive trees from the National Forests in exchange for building logging roads. Despite elimination of PRCs, logging roads continue to be subsidized through annual appropriations from Congress to pay for the engineering and design costs associated with logging road construction. The Administration’s FY99 budget request has projected these costs to be around $31.4 million to subsidize the costs of constructing and reconstructing 3,400 miles of roads to access timber sales.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

Taxpayers should not pay for the timber industry’s cost of doing business. According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), taxpayers paid $387.1 million to construct timber roads from FY92 to FY97.

More than 440,000 miles of roads have been built on National Forest lands, enough to circle the globe 17 times. In recent years, an average of 95 percent of new roads built in National Forests were logging roads — only five percent were for recreation or general purpose. Expenses for constructing recreation and general purpose roads are covered by a separate line item.

Project Hurts the Environment

Forest roads are a major cause of the decline of grizzly bears and cause problems for more common wildlife such as elk. Roads fragment habitat, disrupt wildlife-migration routes, and destroy scenic beauty.

Forest roads cause serious soil erosion and stream sedimentation, ruining water quality and fish habitat, and have been linked to more frequent and severe mudslides.

Contacts

Michael Francis, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-2662; Courtney Cuff, Friends of the Earth, (202) 783-7400 x207; Jill Lancelot, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x105; Steve Holmer, American Lands Alliance, (202) 547-9105; Marty Hayden, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, (202) 667-4500; Bethanie Walder, Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads, (406) 543-9551; Amelia Jenkins, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, (202) 547-9681.

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The Price Isn’t Right

$555 million

Money-Losing Timber Sales

"In terms of assets, the agency would rank in the top five in Fortune magazine’s list of the nation’s 500 largest corporations. In terms of operating revenues, however, the agency would be only number 290. In terms of net income, the Forest Service would be classified as bankrupt."

Economist Randal O’Toole

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) "commodity" timber sales provide timber from our National Forests to companies that cut and mill lumber or other wood products. This program provides only four percent of the total volume of timber cut in the nation. U.S. Commodity timber sales on public lands lose money because the receipts paid to the government by the companies buying the timber do not cover all of the costs associated with preparing and administering the sales.

Green Scissors Proposal

Require the receipts for National Forest commodity timber sales to cover all of the expenses involved with preparing the sales and restoring landscapes and watersheds. Doing so would save more than $111 million annually or $555 million over five years.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

Since 1989, the USFS has lost billions on its timber program. The losses come from selling timber at below the agency’s cost of preparing the timber for sale and subsidizing the construction of an extensive network of logging roads to support the agency’s timber sales program.

Eighty-three of 106 National Forests with commodity sales lost $111 million, according to the Wilderness Society’s analysis of the FY97 sales.

Project Hurts the Environment

Logging in our National Forests has eliminated many old growth forests and damaged habitat for numerous species such as salmon, grizzly bear, and wolf. Soil erosion and sedimentation caused by logging and road building is the most significant threat to fish and other aquatic organisms in our National Forests. Erosion can also reduce the productive capacity of these lands, limiting regeneration of trees and other plants.

Logging compromises many essential biological services, such as clean water, that are provided by forests. A large number of below cost sales are in high-elevation, environmentally sensitive watersheds on steep slopes, areas that will probably need to be restored in the future.

Contacts

Courtney Cuff, Friends of the Earth, (202) 783-7400 x207; Steve Holmer, American Lands Alliance, (202) 547-9105; Carolyn Alkire, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-2685; Marty Hayden, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, (202) 667-4500; Jill Lancelot, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x105; Amelia Jenkins, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, (202) 547-9681.

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Slick Oil Deals

$330 million

Oil Royalty Valuation

"...the taxpayers are being robbed...They are being robbed to the tune of $5.5 million a month, and that is a lot of money."

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Congressional Record, Sept 16, 1998

According to the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), oil companies underpay royalties on the natural resources they extract from public lands by an estimated $66 million per year. Although oil companies are supposed to pay a royalty based on percentages of gross production, the industry has used a "posted price" which can differ by as much as $2 per barrel from the actual daily market price. For the past three years, MMS has attempted to institute reforms that would create a fair, market-based payment process for oil valuation, and make it easier for the government to catch underpayments.

Green Scissors Proposal

Allow MMS to proceed with final rulemaking, ensuring fairer oil royalty payments to the U.S. Treasury and reducing the subsidy to an environmentally damaging industry. Further compromise is unwarranted.

Current Status

After two years of development, five requests for public comment, fourteen public meetings and more than 4,000 pages of comments, MMS planned to publish a rule in June 1998 to enforce royalty valuation. But Sens. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) successfully championed a legislative rider attached to the FY99 Omnibus Appropriations bill prohibiting MMS from issuing a final rule on oil royalty valuation. The moratorium on this rulemaking stands until June 1, 1999, or until a compromise is reached between MMS and the oil industry.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

Oil on federal land is a taxpayer asset that should be managed in a way that maximizes return. Basing royalty payments on the market price maximizes the return to the taxpayer. The prohibition on promulgating reform regulations risks the loss of millions of dollars owed to the taxpayer.

Oil companies continue to underpay royalties every year. MMS estimates that oil companies underpay royalties by at least $66 million per year, totaling a $856 million loss since 1991.

Project Hurts the Environment

The current regulations reinforce existing programs that subsidize an inefficient and environmentally damaging oil industry. It is estimated that the oil industry loses approximately 280 million barrels per year through leaks, spills and other inefficiencies.

Oil royalties paid below market rates place cleaner fuel sources at a market disadvantage, discouraging the development of new alternatives to fossil fuel energy. The burning of fossil fuels contributes to air pollution, smog, and global warming. Subsidizing the oil industry only encourages the development and misuse of the dirty fuels that promote these problems.

The legislative rider blocking implementation of the MMS rule shortchanges the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A portion of revenues from oil royalties is dedicated to this special fund for acquisition and conservation of natural places and habitat.

Contacts

Danielle Brian, Project on Government Oversight, (202) 466-5539; Jill Lancelot, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x105; Anna Aurilio, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, (202) 546-9707; Courtney Cuff, Friends of the Earth, (202) 783-7400 x207.

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Cash Cows

$250 million

Rangeland Reform

"Although cattle grazing in the West has polluted more water, eroded more topsoil, killed more fish, displaced more wildlife, and destroyed more vegetation than any other land use, the American public pays ranchers to do it."

Ted Williams, "He’s Going to Have an Accident," Audubon 1991

The public land grazing program administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is highly subsidized, benefits only a tiny fraction of the nation’s livestock operators and costs taxpayers between $50 and $500 million per year. Below-cost grazing fees encourage overgrazing and, along with other features of the existing federal program, have resulted in extensive and severe environmental damage to public lands.

Green Scissors Proposal

1) Balance the federal range program by charging a grazing fee that covers management costs and trimming program expenditures that neither protect nor restore resources; 2) allow holders of grazing permits to "rest" the land by not grazing it; and 3) create a voluntary permit retirement program to terminate grazing on fragile desert allotments.

Current Status

The Forage Improvement Act (H.R. 2493), introduced by Rep. Bob Smith (R-OR), wound its way through both the full House and through the Senate Energy Committee in the 105th Congress, but stopped short of consideration by the full Senate. The bill would have perpetuated below-cost grazing, discouraged permittee stewardship, prevented public participation in grazing management and increased agency costs. The Tenth Circuit recently upheld an administrative rule that allows non-ranchers to obtain grazing permits, but overturned a second regulation that would have allowed permit holders to put allotments into conservation use.

Federal Rangeland Conditions, 1996

Project Hurt Taxpayers

The current grazing fee does not cover the cost of managing the public’s rangelands. The federal range program costs at least $5.76 per animal per month (AUM), while the current fee is only $1.35 per AUM.

In 1996 the grazing fee cost taxpayers a net loss of more than $50 million. It generated only $25 million while $77 million was spent on administration of the program, a tremendous waste of tax dollars especially considering only three percent of U.S. beef is produced on federal lands.

The current fee is far below the private and state land leasing rates charged in most western states. Private rates range from $6.50 to $12 per animal per month while state rates in 1996 ranged from $2.18 to $15.50.

Grazing subsidies are not limited to Forest Service and BLM land. Free grazing is permitted at many U.S. military installations. At Fort Hood in Texas, ranchers are permitted to graze livestock for free, depriving taxpayers of more than $6 million a year.

Project Hurts the Environment

Below market fees and rancher subsidies encourage overgrazing and are often an incentive to graze environmentally sensitive lands, with resultant damage to riparian areas, soil, plants and other resources.

Contacts

Johanna Wald, Natural Resources Defense Council, (415) 777-0220; Fran Hunt, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-2657; Courtney Cuff, Friends of the Earth, (202) 783-7400 x207; Jill Lancelot, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x105; Caroline Kennedy, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 789-2844 x247; Mark Salvo, American Lands Alliance, (503) 647-2825; Rob Perks, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, (202) 265-7337.

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Trails of Destruction

$120 million

The Recreational Trails Program

"Motorized users have created a tax-payer funded cash cow [Symm's Act] that flies under the radar of environmental analysis... "

John Adams, Ecologist, as quoted in the Great Falls Tribune, May 21, 1998

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP), otherwise known as the Symm’s Act, subsidizes the construction of environmentally damaging off-road vehicle trails. These trails – used by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, 4x4s, dirt bikes, dune buggies, and sport utility vehicles — destroy wildlife habitat, cause water and air pollution, and causes soil erosion. Through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the Federal Highway Administration will give states $240 million over the next five years for the construction and maintenance of trails, up to 70 percent of which can be used for off-road vehicle trails.

Green Scissors Proposal

1) Cut funding for the Recreational Trails Program by 50%, saving taxpayers $120 million over the next five years. 2) Eliminate the motorized trail component from RTP funding requirements, directing remaining funds to non-motorized trails.

Current Status

In 1998, Congress reauthorized the Recreational Trails Fund in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the successor to the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). TEA-21 dramatically increased funding for the Recreational Trails Program from $37.5 million allocated in the original six-year funding period between 1992-1997, to $270 million over the six-year period from 1998-2003. $30 million of the $270 million has already been dispersed to states in 1998.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

Taxpayers should not subsidize the construction and maintenance of motorized trails. Currently, the Forest Service estimates a trail maintenance backlog exceeding $267 million. The development of new motorized trails on federal lands will only exacerbate this backlog, representing a misallocation of taxpayer dollars.

Motorized trail users represent a small minority of trail users, yet can leverage up to 70 percent of the funding for trail construction. According to the national survey Outdoor Recreation in America, only 5 percent of the survey population stated they participated in motorcycling or other motorized recreation. Yet, these trail users are capable of receiving up to 70 percent of the federal funding available through the Recreational Trails Program.

Project Hurts the Environment

Federal agencies are currently unable to properly manage and monitor the environmental damage caused by motorized trails. According to a 1995 GAO study, " at all locations, off-highway vehicle use was being monitored casually rather than systematically, adverse effects were seldom being documented, and needed corrective actions remained to be prioritized."

Off-road vehicles can cause irreparable environmental damage. Motorized vehicles are capable of traveling into backcountry areas, contributing to habitat fragmentation, exotic weed dispersal, air and noise pollution, soil compaction, and erosion.

Contacts

Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth, (202) 783-7400 x229; Amelia Jenkins, Forest Employees for Environmental Ethics, (202) 547-9695; Bethanie Walder, Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads, (406) 543-9551.

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Tongass Timber Travesty

$165 million

Tongass National Forest

"The plan will almost surely be a bad deal for taxpayers."

The New York Times, Editorial 1997

In 1997, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) issued a forest plan for the Tongass National Forest that continued to allow logging in pristine, roadless areas of the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest and allowed new timber road construction and industrial-scale clearcutting. In recent years, similar mismanagement of the Tongass has cost taxpayers $33 million per year.

Green Scissors Proposal

Improve the new Tongass Land Management Plan by eliminating destructive taxpayer-subsidized road construction in southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Doing so would save $165 million over five years and end Forest Service policies that promote a federally-dependent timber industry in southeast Alaska.

Current Status

The USFS issued a new Tongass forest plan in May 1997 that proposed to build over 1,100 new miles of taxpayer-subsidized logging roads while clearcutting more than 85,000 acres of old-growth rainforest over a 10-year period. In FY99, Congress gave $2 million for a veneer mill study in southeast Alaska and added an unrequested $12.5 million to the USFS budget for timber management increases and road building.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

The Tongass timber program is the biggest money loser in the National Forest system. The Forest Service in 1997 admitted losing $33 million on the Tongass — 37% of the losses for the entire national forest timber program. The increased expenditures for the timber sale program will lead to increased costs to the taxpayer. Such increased expenditures are unjustified given the low timber demand — only 19 million board feet of the 187 million board feet offered for sale in FY98 was sold.

The program will create more dependence on federal timber in the Tongass, despite the fact that the federal government has spent more than $250 million in the last three years to promote southeast Alaska’s transition away from a timber-dependent economy. In 1996, the Alaska congressional delegation gave $110 million of taxpayer money directly to Tongass communities. In 1997, Congress spent an additional $140 million to pay off timber giant Louisiana-Pacific Corporation to settle a dispute over the company’s monopoly contract.

Unsustainable Tongass logging levels threaten other forest-dependent industries. Commercial fishing and tourism both employ more people than does timber, and tourism is the fastest growing part of the regional economy. Much of the timber offered at rock-bottom prices still goes unsold due to a changing timber economy. The USFS is investing vast amounts of taxpayer money for timber sales that have no buyer.

Project Hurts the Environment

Clearcutting destroys important habitat for Alaska’s brown bears, wolves, salmon, bald eagles and goshawks. Clearcutting and other destructive logging techniques could devastate up to 8,500 acres yearly.

The agency will continue to build roads and clearcut old-growth, roadless watersheds, fragmenting up to 400,000 pristine, roadless acres in the first decade and 1.8 million roadless acres over a 50-year period.

There are already 4,000 miles of roads in the Tongass, yet the agency plans to build 1,110 new miles of timber roads over the next 10 years. Logging roads add sediment and mud to Tongass streams, impairing world class trout and salmon habitat.

Contacts

Marty Hayden, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, (202) 667-4500; Buck Lindekugel, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, (907) 586-6942; Sharon Buccino, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-2414; Diana Rhoades, Alaska Rainforest Campaign, (202) 544-0475; Amelia Jenkins, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, (202) 547-9681; Michelle Buxton, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x107.

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Alaska Land Grab

$n/a

University of Alaska Land Grab

"The only lands the federal government should own are the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, and a few other such things."

Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Chairman, House Resources Committee, June 9, 1997

The Alaskan congressional delegation is attempting to give 500,000 acres of federal land to the University of Alaska. Three separate land grants, in 1915, 1929, and 1980, gave Alaska 186,000 acres of land for higher education – 96,000 more than allowed under the Morrill Act, the original higher education land grant bill that was passed 136 years ago.

Alaska received 103 million acres at statehood – acreage that included Prudhoe Bay, the nation’s richest oil field. Alaska has used Prudhoe Bay oil revenues to create a $25 billion "Permanent Fund" from which it dispenses annual checks of more than $1200 to every citizen. Its residents pay no state income or sales tax. Yet, Alaska refuses to fully fund its university system.

Green Scissors Proposal

Do not allow passage of any legislation granting public land to the University of Alaska.

Current Status

Legislation was introduced in 1998 that would grant up to 500,000 acres of federal land to the University. This public land giveaway would allow the University to select at least 250,000 acres of National Forest and/or other federal lands within Alaska that are not "conservation system units." If matched by equal acreage from state lands, the University could also select 250,000 additional acres (at total of 500,00 acres) of National Forest and other federal lands in Alaska. This legislation is sure to be revisited in 1999.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

The State of Alaska should not get federal taxpayer assets free of charge. This proposal could give the University lands containing $4.8 billion in federal petroleum resources, $10.5 billion in timber and subsurface resources from the Tongass and Chugach National Forests, and $900,000 in subsurface resources of the National Petroleum Reserve, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Project Hurts the Environment

The proposal would allow the University access to high-grade federal lands of national conservation and economic significance, including:

Tongass National Forest wildlands, the largest National Forest, including lands protected by the Tongass Forest Plan;

Chugach National Forest wildlands, including the 1-million-acre Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area awaiting congressional review;

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lands, including lands currently under federal oil and gas leases, areas qualified for national marine sanctuary or other protected status, and OCS lands off the shores of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;

National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska wildlands, including three congressionally authorized "Special Areas" of international significance, including caribou calving and goose molting areas at Teshekpuk Lake.

Contacts

Marc Wheeler, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, (907) 586-6942; Adam Kolton, Alaska Wilderness League, (202) 544-5205; Diana Rhoades, Alaska Rainforest Campaign, (202) 544-0475; Marty Hayden, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, (202) 667-4500; Sharon Buccino, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-2406; Cena Swisher, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x108.

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K-V Calamity

$250 million

U.S. Forest Service "Replanting Fund"

"... the question is are we going to enable them to continue to do this practice [divert from the K-V Fund for overhead] which is working to the detriment of taxpayers and working to the detriment of the environment?"

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), July 22, 1998

The Knutson-Vandenburg (K-V) Fund was established in 1930 to pay for the reforestation and restoration of logged over areas of the National Forest System. However, the U.S. Forest Service, without statutory authority, siphons money from the "Replanting Fund" to pay for basic overhead costs such as office equipment and rent. In FY97, the Forest Service spent as much as 49 percent of the K-V Fund on overhead. This has not only cost taxpayers, but also stops funds from going to the seedling replanting, brush removal and wildlife habitat restoration needed after logging takes place.

Green Scissors Proposal

Enforce the law as it was originally written and prohibit the Forest Service from spending money from the Replanting Fund on overhead. This would save taxpayers about $50 million a year and ensure that vital environmental restoration needs do not go unmet. Further, agency overhead expenditures that indirectly support the commercial logging program should be paid for by revenue from that program, not by taxpayers.

Current Status

An overwhelming 236-182 vote by the House of Representatives on July 22, 1998 supported an amendment offered by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) prohibiting the Forest Service from using the Replanting Fund for overhead. However, the FY99 Omnibus Appropriations bill included language that permits the Forest Service to fund overhead and indirect expenses from any funds available to the agency, so long as such use is not prohibited by law. For FY00, the bill provides that the Forest Service may use no more than 20 percent of its six off-budget trust funds for indirect obligations. The question of determining the legality of the Forest Service’s practice of utilizing the K-V Fund for indirect expenditures is currently pending before the courts.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

The Forest Service improperly spends tax dollars on its bureaucracy. A General Accounting Office (GAO) report said the Forest Service spent $220 million from the Replanting Fund during 1993-97 on agency overhead instead of the restoration projects it was supposed to carry out.

The federal commercial logging program already loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year. A separate GAO audit reported that the commercial logging program lost $1.04 billion from 1995 to 1997. Allowing the Forest Service to divert money to overhead compounds the waste.

The Forest Service lacks accountability. In congressional testimony in March 1998, the GAO stated that the Forest Service lost $215 million in funds that they could not account for in FY95. The Forest Service should be made to follow the law and stop adding more tax dollars to its own bureaucratic coffers.

Project Hurts the Environment

Lack of funds means lack of reforestation. For every dollar the Forest Service spends from the Replanting Fund on microwave ovens or office supplies, less money is available to restore clearcut lands and eroding hillsides.

Failure to address restoration needs compounds environmental degradation. The longer a steep slope goes unplanted, the longer it spills sediment into fish habitat and drinking water supplies. The agency’s waste creates larger, more complex environmental problems over time.

Contacts

Marty Hayden, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, (202) 667-4500; Amelia Jenkins, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, (202) 547-9681; Jill Lancelot, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x105.

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Freeze the Slush

$171 million

U.S. Forest Service Salvage Fund

"Allowing the agency to retain a portion of the revenue it generates from timber sales without deducting its costs may encourage the Forest Service to not always recover its cost to prepare and administer sales."

General Accounting Office,

Forest Service Salvage Fund’s Deposits and Outlays, August 1996

The U.S. Forest Service Salvage Fund was created to expedite the removal of insect-infested, dead, damaged or down timber. Salvage sale revenues are deposited in the Salvage Fund. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is authorized to make expenditures from the Salvage Fund without an annual appropriations request, giving Congress little ability to monitor and control this spending. Presently the Salvage Fund is financing approximately one third of the logging on the National Forests completely free from congressional oversight. Many of these sales fail to cover even significant portions of their costs.

Green Scissors Proposal

Abolish the U.S. Forest Service Salvage Fund and return the unspent balance to the U.S. Treasury. The current balance is approximately $171 million.

Project Hurt Taxpayers

The USFS has exploited salvage sales to create a large fund that is unaccountable to Congress and provides no revenue to the taxpayer. According to the Congressional Research Service, "No Forest Service budget documents have identified transfers of excess collections from the Salvage Fund to the U.S. Treasury," as required by existing law. This is despite the fact that the Salvage Fund balance was to more than $210 million in FY95, $186 million in FY96, $182 million in FY97, and is currently about $171 million in FY98.

The Fund promotes a timber treadmill whereby managers are encouraged to promote salvage sales since forests keep the sales receipts instead of returning the funds to the Treasury. In addition, shortfalls from one forest are often made up by excess receipts from another forest. The taxpayer ends up funding excessive timber management so that the USFS can perpetuate its bureaucracy.

The Salvage Fund, which is fed from timber receipts, provides local managers with an incentive to enhance sales by adding higher value green trees with the lower value salvage material. Industry benefits by often paying less than market value for wood while having a portion of the sales cost financed by the U.S. taxpayer.

Project Hurts the Environment

Increased scrutiny of the U.S. Forest Service Salvage program has uncovered numerous instances of inappropriate sales of live, healthy trees under the guise of salvaging dead and dying trees. Most salvage sales do not consider the impact of logging live and healthy trees as part of the sale.

Salvage logging generates cash available for other timber sales, which gives local forest managers an incentive to choose logging over other management activities. For instance, instead of using prescribed burns to reduce the risk of insect outbreak, a forest manager may choose salvage logging and the resulting timber receipts. Logging often has greater impacts on wildlife, habitat, water quality, forest function, and scenic beauty than other management activities. In the end, the land, taxpayers and Congress are not better served by this slush fund.

Contacts

Carolyn Alkire, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-2685; Steve Holmer, American Lands Alliance, (202) 547-9105; Marty Hayden, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, (202) 667-4500; Amelia Jenkins, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, (202) 547-9681; Michelle Buxton, Taxpayers for Common Sense, (202) 546-8500 x107.

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Friends of the Earth, 1025 Vermont Avenue NW, 3rd floor, Washington, D.C. 20005
Tel: 202-783-7400   Fax: 202-784-0444   E-mail: foe@foe.org