Why Does Congress Subsidize Timber Corporations to Cut Down the Public’s National Forests?
The U.S. Forest Service loses hundreds of millions of dollars each year selling timber from our national forests. Taxpayers for Common Sense found that the Forest Service timber sale program lost over $400 million fiscal year (FY) 1998. Additionally, Congress’ Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the federal timber program cost the American taxpayer over $2 billion from 1992-1997.
The GAO reported that timber road construction cost American taxpayers $245 million from 1992-1994. Despite this, President Bush proposed more than $50.9 million in FY02 for new timber road construction. There are already more than 440,000 miles of roads in the national forest System – enough to circle the globe 17 times.
The Forest Service uses taxpayer dollars to pay for the engineering and design costs of building and reconstructing logging roads in national forests.
Until 1999, most logging road construction projects were subsidized through the Purchaser Road Credit (PRC) program. Timber companies constructed logging roads in exchange for “free” national forest trees. With this long-standing subsidy off the books, the American public will save an average of $50 million per year, according to the Congressional Research Service.
But it’s more than just roads . . .
Logging roads aren’t the only subsidy that timber corporations receive. The Forest Service consistently charges timber companies far less for national forest timber than it costs the agency to prepare and administer the sales. As a result, these timber operations are subsidized by appropriating tax dollars to make up the difference.
An analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense revealed that the federal timber sale program lost $407 million in FY98. The GAO found that the Forest Service lost more than $1 billion from 1995–1997, and more than $2 billion from 1992-1997, more than $333 million each year!
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