Rep. Rosendale Introduces The Forest Litigation Reform Act
Washington, July 20, 2021
Tags: Environmental Protection
Washington, D.C. - Today, Representative Rosendale introduced the Forest Litigation Reform Act. This legislation would prevent frivolous litigation from impeding responsible forest management practices needed to conserve our forests and mitigate wildfire risk.
Extreme environmental groups often take advantage of our legal system to engage in an endless cycle of litigation, to prevent meaningful, active management of our forests. While these groups know their claims often have little-to-no merit, they are able to delay these activities often until the forests burn, while being reimbursed for these legal expenses by taxpayers under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
The Forest Litigation Reform Act would deny these groups taxpayer dollars to finance their frivolous claims aimed at halting forest management activities. Additionally, it would require a balancing of the harms of any injunction and provide that no injunction or stay against a forest management project may last more than 60 days pending appeal, streamlining the litigation process.
Lastly, instead of going through the tedious judicial process, the Forest Litigation Reform Act would create an alternative dispute process to resolve claims against forestry management projects to be resolved through arbitration, avoiding the hurdles of litigation.
“As wildfires rage across Montana, it is clear that we must do more to responsibly manage our forests to ensure healthy forests and mitigate the risk of catastrophic fires. It is far past time for us to put a stop to the constant barrage of frivolous litigation from radical activists aimed at halting forest management activities,” said Representative Rosendale (MT-AL). “The Forest Litigation Reform Act is a commonsense approach to fix this abuse of our judicial system and ensure we can manage our public lands sustainably.”
“Every year, we continue to see record-breaking wildfires devastate communities and the way of life across the West. Every year, it also becomes more difficult to address the cause of the fires because of frivolous and obstructionist lawsuits that delay and cancel critical forest management activities. It needs to stop now. Congressman Rosendale’s Forest Litigation Reform Act of 2021 will do just that, allowing much-needed projects to proceed on our federal lands. As a critical component of larger solutions like the Resilient Federal Forests Act, we will be able to work through these critical projects and prevent wildfires from devastating rural communities, critical wildlife habitats and economies,” said House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04).
“Serial litigators are notorious for preventing critical forest management throughout the West,” said Representative Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus. “We know that in order to ensure healthy, resilient forests and to prevent catastrophic wildfires that threaten our communities, we must actively manage our lands. Montana is ground-zero for these obstructive lawsuits, and Rep. Rosendale is leading the effort to reform these dangerous practices.”
“Litigation reform is needed to prevent the huge wildfires we are experiencing across the West. Radical environmentalists have weaponized the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and are using frivolous lawsuits to block nearly every management project or salvage sale that the U.S. Forest Service proposes. This means that needed work is delayed making our forests even more vulnerable to fire. Rep. Rosendale’s bill would make much needed reforms and prevent lawyers from blocking needed hazardous fuels reduction projects,” said Representative Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).
“I am proud to co-sponsor the Forest Litigation Reform Act to circumvent frivolous lawsuits from delaying forest management,” said Representative Tom Cole (OK-04). “This legislation would not only prevent extreme environmental groups from funding lawsuits with taxpayer money, but it would speed up the process for resolving claims in order to lessen the impact on projects. We cannot allow the manipulation of the judicial system to slow down the prevention of dangerous wildfires and conserving our forests.”