Sen. Tester’s Logging Bill Placed into Budget Legislation

by jhwygirl

Associated Press reported early this afternoon that Senator Jon Tester’s logging bill that’s been sitting in committee for what seems to be most of the year now has been placed into the $1.3 trillion omnibus budget spending bill.

The current version of the bill, which has substantially changed according to Great Falls Tribune supermontanareporter John S. Adams, has never had a public hearing.

Adams does some extensive in-depth analysis of the bill along with providing correspondence he’s had with Sen. Tester’s office.

While there has been a number of criticisms of the legislation, one issue coming from both sides is the lack of transparency – so to have the bill lopped into the big old nasty budget bill is all the more afront to that aspect.

Matthew Koehler has covered the multiple natural resource issues that have been raised by critics.

Here we have a #1.4 trillion budget bill that is being altered in the Senate in order to go back the House for what will probably be even more compromise – and all the while 10% of Americans that are unemployed wonder about their pithy unemployment benefits. We’ve got tax cuts for the top less-than 2% in there, adding more to the deficit than the double return back in economic activity that unemployment benefits brings.

And my Senator slips his not-had-a-hearing, yet alone a committee vote bill into the budget mess.

Guess we all know how he’s voting now.

  1. Bill O'Connell

    I am an organic farmer.
    And a long-time meat processor, more recently (until just lately) mostly a buffalo skinner. We’re talking a thousand or two…
    But perhaps more than that, am also a musician. Including (in a previous life) playing first chair trumpet in the little known, yet smoking hot Conrad High School Jazz Band.

    So you’d think Jon Tester and I would have quite a bit in common.

    It’s not looking that way to me anymore, though. Jon’s logging bill should have been a classic example of models that don’t work anymore. Except it appears this one might!!

    No Way. Credibility of not a few just took a major dive.

  2. The great majority of political maneuvering is beyond our reach. The only question we are left with is whether Tester knowingly manipulated his progressive base, or simply succumbed to power once elected, as most second-rate people do once taking office. And the answer doesn’t matter. The outcome for us is identical. (It was unsettling to watch Matt Singer internalize every contradiction that Jon set before him and still not waver in his support. What does that say?)

    But it is important now to realize that you have a potential ally in Dennis Rehberg, who oddly doesn’t seem totally swayed by the same moneyed interests as Tester, and who with 70% voter approval has some independence,. Generally in the past there has been a gentleman’s agreement that wilderness legislation passed in any state had to have unanimous support of the delegation from that state, which is why Baucus was always able to thwart Williams’ good efforts. Perhaps Rehberg and environmentalists can become strange bedfellows?

    Just hoping against hope.

    • Rehberg has yet to articulate exactly what it is he objects to in Tester’s bill. He’s all over “more public comment” publicly, but what he’s really objecting to is the increased use of biomass that will come with the bills passage.

      Rehberg’s an oil man – and his oil east side of Montana supporters are going to lose out if the west side logging supporters get their logging/biomass bill approved.

      In the last budget battle, this black gold rider was inserted by Baucus (I believe) only to be removed because of the wastefulness of its spending ways. I wrote about that previously.

      Rehberg’s thunder was stolen. Tester’s logging bill is cutting into Rehberg’s oil donor’s profits….and he’s bummed that no one in the local Montana media picked up his Stillwater mine palladium rider that the Big O signed into law yesterday.

      • Strange bedfellows, nonetheless? I’m no fan of Tester or Rehberg, but for this bill, they are all we have. Why not play one against the other?

        And Rehberg, independently wealthy and hugely popular, does have independence that Tester lacks. Honestly, it’s our only hope.

  3. mr benson

    Tester knows the mill closures and end of logging has hurt this state’s working man. Yes, working man. In this mancession, we could use a few bearded, burly, brawny, industrial jobs back.

    The only thing I have against the bill, same as Denny, is that the logging should come first, and one acre logging before one acre of wilderness. Get enuff logged, dedicate the next chunk of wilderness.

  4. Matthew Koehler

    Timber mills haven’t just closed in Montana. Mills have closed throughout the west, midwest, southeast and deep south. It doesn’t matter if the mills sourced trees from private land or public land. Heck, Canada has seen massive timber mill closures directly impacting over 20,000 timber workers in the past few years. And the timber industry is Canada is given nearly unfettered access to Canada’s expansive forests on public lands.

    We shouldn’t need to remind people that we’re still in the middle of the worst economic crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression. The economic crisis was caused by over-consumption and over-development and people and businesses spending and consuming way, way beyond their means. All of this has come crashing down around us, and will continue to do so unless we buck up, face this stark reality and move forward accordingly. We cannot continue along on our current path, nor should we assume we can go back to the way things were for much of the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

    Senator Tester likes to say this is a jobs bill for the timber industry, but new home construction in America is down 70% and overall wood consumption is down 50%. Seriously, let these numbers sink in. Overall US wood consumption is down 50%! Just where are all these forests Senator Tester wants cut down going to end up?

    The fact is that the Forest Service in the northern Rockies ended 2009 with more timber volume under contract to loggers and mills in our region than any point in the last decade. Enough timber under contract to fill 100,000 log trucks…but still mills either closed or have dramatically reduced their work force because of the economic crisis, which drags on with little relief in sight.

    And, of course, those of us who have ample experience working on forest and wilderness policy issues know the dangerous precedent set by Tester’s bill. The door has just been open for a fundamental change in the way our federal public lands are managed, which threatens America’s very public lands legacy. If Tester’s bill passes as a rider on this completely unrelated $1.3 trillion spending bill, you can bet other senators and reps will be looking to mandate logging, mining, oil and gas development, etc on federal public lands in their states.

  5. jim

    I spent a lot of days and evenings voluntering for Jon’s last campaign. Walked neighborhoods on election day in the cold rain searching for folks who hadn’t voted bcause of the weather or lack of transportation. I did it because Jon convinced me that he would have an open process and hearings in Montana and that he supported preserving Montana’s federal roadless lands. Boy he abandoned that idea quickly. You could participate only if you were invited to the closed door sessions. Women were not invited to participate, nor allowed because they were not invited. The executive director of the Wilderness Society who walked the Wilderness Bill through the halls of congress in 1964, and who lives in Western Montana was not allowed at the table. I predict that if this bill passes, Jon will be a one term senator. I may vote for him because we can’t afford another R from Montana, but Jon will have to look a lot farther for volunteers and donors and maybe even have to knock on doors himself. He’s burning too many bridges in his attempt to woo right wing voters while passing gas on his stongest supporters.

  6. conrad burns warmed over logging bill (tester’s) which orders the forest service to enact tax payer subsidized and mandated logging with no market to sell it,will just end up in the supreme court just like baucus’s mandated monopoly health insurance bill forcing us to purchase private insurance with little or no real competition.

    maybe jon should find himself a better tutor and quit serving up warmed over republican ideas as his own.

  7. Chuck

    On a lighter non partisan note…
    The Grizzly Men’s Basketball team is something to see. They play Oregon State tonight at 7:05.
    Will Cherry, a sophomore guard is leading the NATION in steals and is one of the best guards to ever play at Montana. The Griz also have an athletic seven footer and a 6′ 11′ center that make up one of the best big duos in the West , period. They are great kids, that stay out of trouble and have fun. You should get out and go see these guys.

  8. Pronghorn

    Matthew K said: “… the dangerous precedent set by Tester’s bill. The door has just been open for a fundamental change in the way our federal public lands are managed, which threatens America’s very public lands legacy.”

    This is the crux of it for me. Jon Tester will not get my vote again.

  9. Matthew Koehler

    Based on Jim’s comment above, here are some specific examples of how some roadless wildlands are treated in Tester’s bill.

    Take, for example, the 229,710 acre West Pioneers Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA), which includes the 151,00 acre Metcalf Wilderness Study Area (WSA). What Sen Tester’s bill would do is turn 129,252 acres of this IRA into a permanent, motorized Recreation Management Areas (RMA). Seriously, do we really want politicians ignoring the USFS’s travel plans to just legislate where they want motorized recreation permanently permitted?

    Of course, our recommendation would be to designate the entire 151,000 acre Metcalf WSA as Wilderness and eliminate the permanently motorized RMA, returning the management of that area to USFS travel planning, where it belongs.

    Or take, for example, what Tester’s bill would do to the West Big Hole IRA, a 213,987 acre area along the crest of the continental divide that provides linkages and connectivity between the Greater Yellowstone area and forests to the west and north.

    The Tester bill would turn just 44,084 acres of this IRA into two small, far-apart Wilderness Areas while turning much of the IRA into a single, large, permanent, motorized National Recreation Area (NRA) totaling 94,237 acres. The large NRA would be twice as large as the two proposed Wilderness areas together and access to these two proposed Wilderness areas would be forced to use the motorized NRA trails.

    Those are just two examples contained in the bill. I can provide more examples if anyone likes.

  10. Matthew Koehler


    John S. Adams, the capital bureau chief for the Great Falls Tribune, has put together what is by far the most comprehensive, up-to-date collection of documents, releases, links, quotes, charts and comments related to Senator Tester’s bill.

    All of it is available on his blog, The Lowdown (

    I’d encourage everyone to spend some time over there, review the information and share your opinions. This is an important issue.

  11. Matthew Koehler

    BREAKING: Democrats abruptly drop spending fight
    By Andy Sullivan

    WASHINGTON | Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:24pm EST

    (Reuters) – Democrats abruptly abandoned a fight over spending on Thursday and said they would instead extend government funding on a temporary basis, a move that gives Republicans a greater chance to enact the deep cuts they have promised.

  12. Matthew Koehler


    Fact Checking the FJRA Poll Numbers
    (Alternative title could be: “When is a Poll Not a Poll and When Do 16-Month-Old Survey Results No Longer Matter?”)

  1. 1 Wilderness: the Third Rail of Montana Politics « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] claims to oppose Tester’s logging bill which keeps showing up in different incarnations as rider fodder and stand-alone versions. “The Buffalo Field Campaign? Really? If the Buffalo Field Campaign […]

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