FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law

U.S. Senator Daines (R-MT) seeks to add a rider on the Farm Bill to take away citizens’ rights to sue the federal government on Forest Service decisions. What he seems to have forgotten is that the U.S. Constitution gives people the absolute right to challenge federal government decisions in court.

The right to challenge unlawful government conduct in a civil lawsuit is one of the only ways that citizens can directly intervene to force the government to follow our laws. So why does Daines want to strip the public of this right? And who will really benefit from this? Not the public. Not the forests. Not the rule of law.

Daines suggests that the public should be forced into “arbitration” instead of challenging unlawful government conduct in court. Daines’ pilot arbitration program is what corporations like Wells Fargo require. Wells Fargo is the bank that illegally opened millions of new accounts for people without their knowledge. They require their customers to challenge their actions through arbitration, rather than lawsuits, which basically means that you don’t get your day in court when the company violates the law. Daines thinks what’s good for Wells Fargo is good for America’s public lands.

The sad truth is that corporations like Wells Fargo require their customers to use arbitration rather than litigation so that they can continue to break the law, and avoid setting judicial precedent that they would have to follow. That is exactly what Daines is attempting to do here by enabling the Forest Service to continue to break the law and avoid setting judicial precedent government agencies would have to follow in future cases. Daines knows that the Forest Service repeatedly breaks the law and is held accountable in court. He also knows it often loses those cases and apparently his “solution” is to destroy the checks and balances the judicial branch exerts over executive branch agencies.

To support the nonexistent need for his amendments, Daines resorts to “alternative facts” claiming that a large number of timber sales are currently challenged in court and stopped by injunctions. But, since it’s fiction, he neglected to provide the names or locations.

Certainly some timber sales have been temporarily stopped by injunction, but the reason for an injunction is always that the government broke the law. Furthermore, the injunction only lasts until the government fixes the timber sale so that it complies with the law. Does Daines believe that the President Trump’s Forest Service is somehow above the law? Would Daines prefer that illegal timber sales that violate the law move forward? Why would Daines believe that normal citizens like you and I have to comply with the law, but the Trump administration does not?

It seems apparent that Daines thinks we should clearcut what’s left of our national forests as quickly as possible. But who does this actually benefit? It certainly doesn’t benefit the public since taxpayers subsidize these money-losing timber sales with millions of public dollars. Nor does it benefit the ecosystems and wildlife — clearcutting thousands of acres and bulldozing new logging roads in our national forests leads to less elk habitat for hunters, fewer clean running streams for native fish, and less habitat for rare and endangered species that call the our national forests home and generates billions from tourism every year. No one wants to hike, fish, or float in clearcuts, and we should do all they can to protect our national forests, these priceless and irreplaceable resources for future generations.

Americans deserve senators who recognizes the importance of intact ecosystems, stands up to the Trump administration’s serial law-breaking and rejects the requests for sweetheart deals from industry lobbyists.

Please join us in our efforts to protect our precious public lands and wildlife, and resist Daines’ and others’ on-going efforts to destroy them. Contact your senators and ask them to oppose Senator Daines’ rider and let them know that the corporate ploy of side-stepping the law through mandatory arbitration is not appropriate for projects on public lands.

Mike Garrity is a fifth-generation Montanan and the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

 

More articles by:

Mike Garrity is the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail