- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's fingers must still be burning. Almost a week ago, Audrey Hudson of The Washington Times revealed that Mr. Daschle had quietly inserted language into a spending bill which will protect a South Dakota timber project from environmental regulations and lawsuits that prohibit preventative forest fire-fighting activities, such as tree-thinning which pragmatic foresters have been arguing in favor of for years.

Mr. Daschle sent in a reply, reprinted in our Letters section opposite, alleging that there were several inaccuracies in Mrs. Hudson's story. Specifically, Mr. Daschle suggests that his provision does not direct tree-thinning regardless of existing regulations. Yet according to the language of his proviso, "actions authorized by this section shall proceed immediately and to completion notwithstanding any other provision of law …" The attempted parse between "laws" and "regulations" should not be allowed to obscure the main point of exception-making.

It's also worth noting that while Mr. Daschle is correct in saying that his amendment was supported by the Wilderness Society, the group opposed the exception.

Mr. Daschle also maintains that this newspaper was wrong to report that his office had obstructed Rep. John Thune's attempt to add a similar provision to the farm bill. However, according to a letter released by Rep. Larry Combest, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, his staff attempted to bring up the issue of timber removal with Senate conferees' staff on three different occasions at the request of Mr. Thune. That amendment was never accepted.

Of course, Mr. Daschle is entitled to his interpretations. But the people being burned by the fires out West could use more of his exception-making.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide