- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Senator Daschle's 'misunderstood' amendment

On Wednesday, The Washington Times ran an article reporting that I added an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill that would facilitate thinning in the Black Hills National Forest to reduce the threat of forest fires ("Daschle seeks to exempt his state," Page 1). That is correct. However, the article also suggests that this provision should set a precedent for exempting timber cutting in other national forests from national environmental review. That assertion reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of my amendment.

The Daschle provision does not, as the article implies, direct the Forest Service to thin in a national forest without regard to existing environmental regulations. Rather, it implements an agreement negotiated by all local stakeholders the Forest Service, the state of South Dakota, community officials, the timber industry, and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. That agreement the product of months of frank, honest discussions allows thinning in Beaver Park and the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve while also protecting the roadless character of the area and creating 3,600 acres of new wilderness in the Black Elk Wilderness Area.

Those who would like to claim the Daschle provision as precedent for their states should understand that in order to initiate thinning and protect the agreement from legal challenge, they would have to meet two fundamental criteria:

• Reach agreement on an overall management plan that includes all local stakeholders the federal government, community officials, environmental groups and state government.

• Preserve the environmental integrity of the affected area.

No special legal protection could be afforded a timber-cutting plan unless it met those tests.

The Times' article also contends that "the [Daschle] provision to allow logging in Beaver Park and Norbeck was first included in the farm bill by Rep. John Thune. It was killed by Mr. Daschle under pressure from environmental groups, congressional aides said." This statement is factually incorrect in two respects.

First, the proposal of Mr. Thune, South Dakota Republican, was substantially different from my provision. The Thune proposal did not implement a locally negotiated consensus agreement and, therefore, would have led to additional litigation, bringing us no closer to our goal of reducing the local fire threat. And it did not add wilderness to the national forest or protect the environmental integrity of the thinned areas.

Second, the Thune proposal was never added to the farm bill and was never advocated by a House member during the farm bill conference. That is a matter of public record.

I appreciate that, as the article notes, Mr. Thune " is challenging Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson for his seat in November." Nonetheless, it would seem to make sense for the reporter to have checked the veracity of Republican aides' claims before printing them as fact.

Also, if other senators can succeed in achieving consensus agreements in their states that address legitimate fire-related forest management objectives in an environmentally responsible fashion, Congress should consider them. But, to claim the South Dakota model as precedent for unilateral imposition of forest management activities is not sustainable as a matter of policy or logic.

In South Dakota, Forest Service thinning plans had been blocked for months by litigation as the threat of fire intensified. Throughout this period, extensive negotiations took place among the interested parties to resolve their differences and reach agreement. This consensus agreement has cleared the way for thinning to begin. Attempting to push through unilateral proposals conceived by politicians without the involvement and support of all interested parties only leads to more litigation. When we are dealing with an issue as critical as forest fires, the delays caused by litigation endanger property, businesses and lives.


TOM DASCHLE

Majority Leader

U.S. Senate

Washington

Germany, Europe have no bone to pick with Iraq

While Germans, and Europeans generally, regard Saddam Hussein's government as a vicious tyranny, there are far fewer who agree that he poses the sort of threat to America, much less Europe, outlined by President Bush ("Germany, reality and Saddam," Editorial, Saturday ).

The real reasons that neither Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder nor his conservative Bavarian opponent Edmund Stoiber are saying much about the issue are that most Germans do not believe in the supposed threat from Iraq (and even fewer believe that it is a European problem), and most of the political leadership there is profoundly skeptical but unwilling to embarrass the United States government by openly criticizing its gallivanting, bizarre foreign policy. Germany is also constrained by economic sluggishness, domestic political criticism within the current governing coalition and spending constraints imposed by the EU, so its participation or support in any American campaign would be largely rhetorical and moral. The Germans are not at all naive about terrorism which they have been fighting, in various forms, longer than us and they have been one of our best allies in fighting al Qaeda. The United States would be extremely foolish to jeopardize or strain that alliance in order to satisfy an inexplicable vendetta against Iraq.


DANIEL LARISON

Albuquerque, N.M.

National Weather Service eyes every storm

The article "Weather system failed La Plata" (Metro, July 22) cannot go without a response. The National Weather Service (NWS) and our media and emergency management partners provided critical information to the public about the April 28 tornado.

We routinely review our performance after major severe weather outbreaks to learn what worked well and where improvements can be made. A team of NWS experts conducting a review for this tornado incident learned that television stations did broadcast our severe weather warnings, but a tornado watch issued at 3:11 p.m. was not redistributed by two radio stations over the Emergency Alert System. (TV and radio stations voluntarily send out the weather alerts over EAS as a public service.) Engineers believe the problem was with the specific EAS receiver at the two radio stations. But it is important to note that the two radio stations provided a real public service that day by still alerting the public on the air to the impending storm.

The manufacturer of the EAS receivers used at these two stations is working to resolve the issue. We have and will continue conducting weekly tests of our system, to ensure we can reliably deliver weather alerts to the American public.

The NWS NOAA Weather Radio system we use to send our alerts to the public and the media worked that day, as verified by the television media, official government monitors, and a private company that provides alerts to the public via e-mail. The National Weather Service forecasters and the radio and television broadcasters helped save countless lives by alerting the public hours before the storms arrived in our area.


BRIG. GEN. JOHN J. KELLY, JR.

U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Director

National Weather Service

Silver Spring, Md.

Irish mobsters do not typify manly living

I found Suzanne Fields' commentary on the movie "Road to Perdition" sexist and insulting to men ("Road to perdition, without a mother's love," Op-Ed, July 18).

As I read her negative description of men living in the absence of women that is, "a bleak, dark world of gloom and rain, brutal with creative male energy run ruthlessly amok" I expected to see a qualifier, such as men in Irish mafia gangs, cold-hearted criminals or men who watch too many movies depicting either of the former.

Instead, Mrs. Fields stereotypes all men with the same sexist brush: Without women, men basically tend to be brutal, uncivilized and insensitive. Any objective person's experience would contradict this skewed characterization of the world of men.


MIKE DORAN

Alexandria, Va.


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