Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Thinning Projects May Get Break.(Final)

Byline: Tania Soussan Journal Staff Writer

* Bingaman bill lets some work proceed without environmental review

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., introduced legislation this week that would exempt some forest thinning projects from environmental review.

After congressional auditors found earlier this year that almost all U.S. Forest Service projects aimed at reducing wildfire risks went forward without lengthy delays from environmental challenges, Bingaman said changes were not needed.

But since that audit was released, the House passed a bill to limit environmental analyses and expedite appeals on 10 million acres of forest thinning projects. In addition, the Bush administration announced new rules to exempt many fuels-reduction projects on 190 million acres from environmental review and administrative appeals. …

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