Northwest Representatives debated a bill today that would funnel logging profits to struggling timber-dependent counties across Washington and Oregon. Washington Congressman Doc Hastings chaired the hearing.
Environmental groups have expressed concerns about the bill, saying it offers significant exemptions for many small- to medium- sized timber sales. The Obama administration does not support the proposal. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said his agency does not support some of the bill's methods. Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler reprimanded him.
She said, "We've put these ideas on the table, good faith, and we're going to move forward with them. I would actually urge you, rather than sit down and say 'The administration blanket opposes these pieces of legislation,' I'd like you to find those things that you support in them and say that first. And then perhaps as this legislative process moves forward we can find a place to work together."
Hastings says his bill is aimed at helping communities covered by a reimbursement program that will expire at the end of June.
The 25 percent quota for counties echoes a historic policy that delivered timber revenue to counties containing national forest lands.
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.