Trump moves to permit new logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest: report

Trump moves to permit new logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest: report
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The Trump administration is moving to lift logging restrictions on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the country’s largest national forest, The Washington Post reports.

The president reportedly directed Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueLawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Overnight Energy: Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver | Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback | Trump officials finalize rule allowing fewer inspectors at pork plants MORE to lift the restrictions put in place under the Clinton administration’s 2001 “Roadless Rule” earlier this month, three sources familiar with the matter told the Post. 

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the rule establishes prohibitions on “road construction, road reconstruction, and timber harvesting on 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas on National Forest System lands.”

The move to roll back the rule could reportedly downgrade protections for the majority of the rainforest, which spans 16.7 million acres, and potentially allow for possible logging and mining projects. 

The move reportedly comes after the president shared a private discussion with Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) on the matter earlier this year.

According to the Post, the conversation took place during the president’s recent meeting with Dunleavy at Elmendorf Air Force Base in late June.

At the time, Dunleavy told reporters after the meeting that the president “really believes in the opportunities here in Alaska, and he’s done everything he can to work with us on our mining concerns, timber concerns.” 

“We talked about tariffs as well,” he also said. “We’re working on a whole bunch of things together, but the president does care very much about the state of Alaska.” 

The reported move, which has prompted alarm from wildlife experts and conservationists, has come after repeated calls from Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw McConnell lashes out at Democrats over 'unhinged' criticism of Kavanaugh MORE (R-Alaska) to exempt Alaska from the Clinton-era rule. 

Murkowski said in a statement to the Post that the rule “should never have been applied to our state” and added that it is “harming our ability to develop a sustainable, year-round economy for the Southeast region, where less than one percent of the land is privately held.” 

“The timber industry has declined precipitously, and it is astonishing that the few remaining mills in our nation’s largest national forest have to constantly worry about running out of supply,” she added.

The Trump administration is reportedly set to roll out a plan for later this year.