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Letter


An Open Letter to the United States House of Representatives: Support the Andrews-Chabot Amendment

June 13, 2007

Dear Representative:

For the past three decades the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and its 362,000 members have held that timber extraction efforts should be based on economic viability, not the availability of taxpayer subsidies. Yet, the Forest Service has spent nearly $1 billion since 1982 subsidizing the timber industry's logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, even though the Forest Service estimates that 90-95 percent of such contracts operate at a loss. We therefore urge you to vote in favor of an amendment offered by Representatives Robert Andrews and Steve Chabot to the Department of the Interior Appropriations Bill that would eliminate such subsidies.

Of course, since the federal government owns an estimated 1/3 of all land in the United States, the debate over using taxpayer funds to build and maintain commercial logging infrastructure would be moot if citizens were permitted to purchase the land (and in so doing return the proceeds from those sales to the Treasury). Private owners could thereby build their own forest roads, interact with concerned members of the community in their own way, and, most importantly, take their own business risks.

While NTU strongly believes it is time for the timber companies to wean themselves from taxpayer funds in their national forest activities, the federal government in return should overhaul management practices that have created little benefit for private industry or our environment. The chain of heavier taxation and regulation on timber operations, which prompts the firms to demand federal assistance, and in turn adds to the budget deficit, has shackled the policy process to the point where employers, affected citizens, and environmental groups cannot come to a mutually beneficial agreement over the most effective use of public lands. We hope that Congress will turn to the larger issues of better federal stewardship, more local control, and greater respect for free-market economics that have so far eluded our entire national forest system.

NTU strongly supports efforts to reduce taxes, bring federal spending under control, and foster greater economic freedom for all Americans. As such, NTU's annual Rating of Congress utilizes every roll call vote affecting fiscal policy, and weights those votes based on their impact on American taxpayers. Votes on the Andrews-Chabot Amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill will be included in the Rating. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact me at (703) 683-5700 or krasmussen@ntu.org.

Sincerely,

Kristina Rasmussen
Director of Government Affairs