Sen. Jon Tester’s cavalier remarks about the Obama administration’s objections to his logging bill demonstrate incredible arrogance and willful denial of reality (see “Logjam,” Feb. 11, 2010). Undersecretary Harris Sherman, whose hearing testimony strongly questioned essential aspects of Tester’s bill, is not just any old witness—he’s the guy who was hired to oversee the Forest Service, and to formulate and give voice to the administration’s forest policy.
It’s not about Sherman having “heartburn,” as Tester puts it. And it’s immaterial whether there are individuals in the Forest Service or anywhere else in government who don’t share Sherman’s views, as Tester speculates. A policy has been articulated—the administration, representing citizens inside and outside Montana and a broader public interest, has put its foot down on the senator’s over-the-top logging mandate and the terrible precedents his bill would establish.
Unfortunately, since the hearing, Tester’s contrarian response has been to increase the amount of logging the bill requires. He says “the jury is out” on his bill, even though it’s hard to find anyone who likes it. He promises “plenty of places to find and cut trees” to prop up the timber industry, when there’s little demand, and a huge backlog of uncut timber under contract.
Tester seems to have made a personal decision to just bully and bluster his way ahead, no matter what common sense would dictate. By contrast, the Forest Service appears to be trying to serve the public interest with its assertive stand against the bad ideas in Tester’s bill.
Steve Gilbert, board member, Helena
Janine Blaeloch, director, Seattle
Western Lands Project