Mr. POMBO. I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this motion to instruct. I would like to start off by saying I agree with much of what my colleague from California (Mr. George Miller) had to say. This is an extremely important piece of legislation, not only to the State of California because of our recent problems that we have had with wildfires in Southern California but we have also had wildfires in Northern California and throughout much of the West and quite frankly into the South as well in recent
years. The reason that we have had those fires to a large degree has been because of mismanagement on the part of the Federal Government. It has been something that has drug on for and built up over the last 100 years, the management of our national forests, of our BLM lands. The decisions
that were made in this body and by numerous administrations over the years led us to this point where we have an intolerable level of fuels throughout our public lands which has caused these fires not to be a natural fire but to be a catastrophic fire that goes in and burns areas.
I agree with my colleague from California that we cannot allow this to drift into some partisan whirlpool, I think was his comment. When I hear people in the other body saying that they are going to refuse to go to conference on this bill, that is intolerable. This is something that we should have acted on many years ago. I hear some of those in the other body saying that this is a carefully crafted bill that they spent weeks putting together. Well, this body has spent years putting this bill
together, in doing the research and putting this bill together. The first bill, the healthy forest bill that was introduced in the House, was introduced in 1995. This has been something that we have been working on for a number of years.
A couple of years ago, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. McInnis), the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Walden), and others sat down and tried to craft a compromise that we could bring to the House floor. As we worked through that compromise, we were not able to get the other body to move along with us. We put together a bill and spent months and hours in working through and crafting a bipartisan bill.
As my colleagues on the House Committee on Agriculture have said, this was something that was passed bipartisan. I serve on the Committee on Agriculture. Yes, it was a bipartisan bill coming out of the Committee on Agriculture. It was a bipartisan bill coming out of the Committee on Resources. It was a bipartisan bill coming off the House floor. It was something that we worked extremely hard on to put together and craft a balanced bill. That is what we are going to conference with. All I ask
is that those in the other body come to that conference with that same dedication, to craft a bipartisan bill, a bicameral bill that we can put on the President's desk. If we can do that, we can deliver something that will help the American people and help to better manage our national lands.
Mr. McINNIS. Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to compliment the chairmen of the various committees. The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte), in his committee he expedited this bill. He understood very clearly what the threats were out there not only just in the West but obviously threats in the East as well.
And this bill addresses not just fire hazards. Do not forget we have a very evil beetle out there, and these beetles go out there, and they are like a cancer on a tree. It is like once that beetle lands on that tree, that tree is dead, and that tree only has commercial viability for about 2 years. So if they cannot get that tree out of the forest within a 2-year period of time, two things happen. One, they are going to have to [Page: H10467]
pay somebody to take it
out of there because it has no commercial viability for others to pay them to take it out of there; and, two, it is a cancer that is sitting there spreading not just to other dead trees, but to live trees. This beetle is wrecking havoc on our forests, and the chairman saw this. The chairman knows first hand, and I appreciate that.
The gentleman from California (Mr. Pombo), the chairman of the full committee, the Committee on Resources, of course, he comes from the State of California, which has just suffered devastating losses in the last 3 weeks. Myself, I come from the State of Colorado. The mountain I grew up on, the base, Storm King Mountain, several years ago we lost firefighters, 15 firefighters on that mountain. These fires are deadly things, and we must deal with them.
Fortunately, we have had great cooperation. I appreciate the gentleman from Texas's (Mr. Stenholm) motion today to instruct the conferees. Although it is not binding on the Senate, perhaps it will give the Senate a little more incentive, as if the last couple of weeks the disasters in California were not enough incentive of its own.
And I must say that the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio), I can tell the Members if they set my voting record next to that of the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) or, in fact, the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio), outside of procedural votes, we probably disagree 95 percent of the time. These two gentlemen, along with the able leadership of the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Walden),
came to the table last year, and we had some of the best good-faith negotiations that I have seen in my elected history, and I have been in elected office for 21 years. The gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) stood up, and they stood up to the radical environmental community, which is the only thing that is going to kill this bill.
Two years ago, as soon as the National Sierra Club and the Greenpeace and the Earth First! Organizations found out that the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio), the most ardent environmental supporters in the U.S. Congress, as soon as they found out that they were sitting down with the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Walden) and with me and with the various chairmen, they said they had just joined the ``chain saw caucus.''
If the Members want to know what is going to beat this bill, it is the persuasion that some of these organizations like the National Sierra Club are having on some of our colleagues in both of these Chambers.
It is imperative. We are very close to a compromise. We are very close for the first time in several years of being able to go in and manage our forests. What has happened is we have taken the management away from the green hats. What are the green hats? I say that in a complimentary fashion. Those are the Forest Service people. Take a look at the U.S. Forest Service, stop any ranger anywhere in the country. Do the Members know what they are going to find out about their background? They are
going to find out that ever since they were little they dreamed of being a ranger in the Forest Service. They went to college. They got a degree in forest management. They are in that forest every day of the week. They do not work for money. We do not pay them a lot of money. They work because they love the forest. They love that job.
Who do the Members think ought to be managing those forests? The National Sierra Club, which tries any obstacle they throw up? Do the Members think the United States Congress ought to be managing those forests? The people that ought to be managing those forests are the experts, the U.S. Forest Service.
We will continue to suffer massive losses as a result of fire and beetle kill if we do not let the Forest Service do what the Forest Service is best at doing, and that is in managing the forests. And that is what this bill does. But we do have a roadblock facing us out there. Our roadblock is the National Sierra Club, which has put everything into overdrive to try to stop this bill. They are saying to the general public they are going to cut down old growth. They are saying they are going to
clear-cut, as if we are going into the Sequoia National Park and cut down those great big trees. They are saying this is all about lumber companies. Thank goodness, we have got somebody who will take that wood.
And by the way, there is not one person in this Chamber, there is not one member of the National Sierra Club, there is not one member of Earth First!, there is not one member of Greenpeace that does not use wood products. They sit at wood tables, by the way, to write us nasty letters. They live in a house that has got wood throughout the house.
The key here is do not let Greenpeace, do not let the National Sierra Club, do not let Earth First! block what is the most significant piece of forest legislation we have had in 2 decades. We have got very ardent support from very capable people from the environmental side of the U.S. House, the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller), the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio), two very capable, strongly environmentally-oriented people. We have the gentleman from Virginia
(Mr. Goodlatte), the chairman of our committee, and the gentleman from California (Mr. Pombo), both, very strongly committed to the environment but with the understanding that we have to use common sense in the management of our forests. That is what this bill is about. That is why this bill should be approved. That is why the gentleman from
Texas's (Mr. Stenholm) motion to instruct and get this done now while we have got a deal in line, that is why we ought to support this. So I stand strongly in support of that. I commend Members on both sides of the aisle. This bill has bipartisan support. It ought to pass, and we need to get into those forests and let our green hats do their job.
Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland. Mr. Speaker, since there still is embolded in large cast letters above your chair the words ``In God We Trust,'' maybe it would be appropriate for me to note for the Sierra Club or Earth First! and Greenpeace that if they will go and read the Biblical account of creation, they will find that when the Lord placed Adam and Eve in the garden, he charged them to dress and keep the garden. The point is that even in a perfect world, the Lord recognized there was a need for
man to intervene in the process of nature.
So I hope these groups will take that into account and note that that is exactly what this bill does, and it is all that this bill does, is to appropriately intervene in the process of nature to benefit the forest.
The other body has passed a similar bill, of course, with a lot of extraneous material, most of which costs money. I know you are going to want to prune a lot of that out. I hope there is one little piece of that extraneous material that survives the pruner's knife, and this is a little piece of legislation that has to do with animal rights. It simply enhances the penalties for interstate commerce in cockfighting and dog fighting. It costs zero dollars; and it will do a lot of good, because now
these crimes will be prosecuted.
So my congratulations for a really good bill. I hope that this little animal rights addition in the Senate survives the pruner's knife.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, I will just say very briefly that this motion to instruct conferees offered by the gentleman from Texas is very welcome. It is exactly what we need. We hope the message is received, not only here on the House side, but also on the Senate side, that we will work together in an open conference, across party lines, and we will work together with the Senate to accomplish that. But it is absolutely essential that the Senate take the same step that we are taking here today and do it as
quickly as possible so we can meet the timetable put forward by the gentleman from Texas.
Secondly, it is absolutely important that the message go out that this Congress on this issue has worked together, and worked together very well. The place where we find the extremism that some have expressed concern about has been on the outside, the organizations like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club and Earth First!, extremists who send the mail to so many people.
We have all seen it. It is designed to raise money for these organizations. If they said that the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) was meeting with the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. McInnis), who has very different points of view, to work out their differences, do you think that would generate a lot of revenue for these organizations? I think not.
What they do is try to portray this legislation and this Congress as being extremist. That is wrong, and that is where the problem lies. We need to reject that. We need to reject the falsehoods that are being portrayed about the legislation on the outside, to work together in the interests of the American people, work together in the interests of our national forests here on the inside to produce a final product that will really address a severe crisis that we have.
It is time to stop that kind of game playing, and it is time to get serious about addressing this problem. We are so close to something that we have sought for so long that we should not allow that outside rhetoric, that outside pressure, to deter us from what needs to be done.
What needs to be done is exactly what the gentleman from Texas has described in his motion to instruct. We need to meet, we need to meet openly, we need to meet now, and we need to produce a product that works out the differences between the House and the Senate by next Thursday.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to endorse and support this motion to instruct conferees.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.