The U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday (11/18) finalized a rule change, to a landmark Nixon-era environmental law, that aims to open up vast stretches of national forests to increased logging in Oregon, Washington and beyond. The rule change took effective the following day. The newly revised rule authorizes the Forest Service to bypass requirements under a bedrock conservation law called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It applies to areas of national forest land as large as 2,800 acres (4.3 square miles) at a time, allowing the Forest Service to authorize logging and other activities without following NEPA’s public notification and environmental review requirements. In a press statement U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue who oversees the Forest Service, lauded the newly established authority to use “categorical exclusions” to bypass NEPA provisions. Environmental groups have indicated they will be challenging the change in court.
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More national forest logging expected from last-minute environmental rule change