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Press Release

Westerman, Thompson Inquire Into Regulatory Overreach at Forest Service

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and House Committee on Agriculture Ranking Member G.T. Thompson (R-Pa.) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, inquiring into the agency's potential overreach of congressional authority and lack of proper rulemaking. In part, the members wrote:

"Several actions by FS [Forest Service] raise significant concerns that the agency is ignoring scientific conclusions and departmental processes in order to advance President Biden’s political agenda. As demand for minerals continues to increase, the Biden administration repeatedly stifles domestic development of our natural resources. For example, on January 15, 2021, the FS completed a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) for the Resolution Copper Project. Yet, less than two months later, on March 1, 2021, USDA directed FS to rescind both the FEIS and draft ROD. Despite the completion of an FEIS, the Biden administration is initiating a lengthy reexamination process, further delaying production of copper.

"Additionally, the Biden administration reversed decisions allowing for the development of the Duluth Complex, one of the largest undeveloped mineral reserves in the world. On September 28, 2021, the FS submitted an application for withdrawal of forest lands in the Rainy River Watershed of the Superior National Forest. The FS proposed a 20-year withdrawal, as well as a two-year segregation period for the area. Mirroring the actions of USDA under the Obama administration, the Biden administration is shutting down our nation’s ability to develop critical mineral resources.

"President Biden continues to take executive actions, leading the FS to overstep its authority. For example, through Executive Order (EO) 14072 , the management of our national forests will continue to be hampered. Instead of allowing FS to focus on critical forest management projects, this EO will divert resources away toward an onerous exercise that will do nothing to protect old growth forests. Healthy forests are essential to ecosystems, but do not happen by chance. Active and science-driven management is necessary to maintain forests that are healthy and resilient to wildfires. The directives of EO 14072 call into question whether the FS will prioritize the management projects necessary for healthy forests."

Read the full letter here.