July 01, 2005
In the second day of debate, Murkowski spoke on the Senate floor and argued against the amendment, calling it unjust because it only targeted the Tongass.
"When you look at this amendment, it is very specific," Murkowski said. "It is not the elimination of subsidies or assistance throughout our national forest systems. It is specific to one national forest, and that is the Tongass, located in Alaska.
"There are 111 national forests spread across the country. Of those, 105 spend more on their timber programs than they collect in receipts. It costs $6.05 per acre to manage the Tongass, which is very comparable, if not more efficient than most other national forests in the country. So, this is not just focusing on the Tongass because it's way out of whack in terms of the costs that are expended on the Tongass. Fully 75 percent of the costs associated with the timber program in the Tongass are the result of appeals and litigation. It's estimated that without these costs, without these litigations costs, the Tongass timber program could produce on average about a 13 percent profit.
"The economic argument for this amendment just doesn't hold up, and you can't separate the economic argument from the frivolous lawsuits. The reason the costs are so high in the Tongass is because of the lawsuits.
"The same people, the same organizations that are supporting this amendment which would shut down any road activity are the same people that are filing the lawsuits. The reality is that the Tongass National Forest is singled out because it is on the hit list of environmental groups who have always opposed all logging in the Tongass National Forest."
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) also went to the Senate floor to again encourage the Senate to vote to keep funding for the planning, design, study and construction of forest development roads in the Tongass National Forest in the Fiscal Year 2006 Senate Interior Appropriations Bill.
In his statement to the Senate, Senator Stevens reminded his fellow Senators that Senator John Sununu's amendment did not reduce the budget but instead diverted the funds from Alaska, allowing them to be spent elsewhere. A vote "No" by a Senator is a vote for Alaska's timber industry and for timber development in the Tongass.
Senator Stevens joined fellow
Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho)
and Senator John Ensign (R-NV) in urging the Senate to vote against
the measure. The measure failed by a vote of 39 to 59.
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