If passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, the bill would also work toward a global ban on stratospheric warfare.
The bill has been referred to the House International Relations and Armed Services committees, and the Space and Aeronautics subcommittee. There are several Texas representatives on these committees including Ciro Rodriguez, who is on Armed Services, and Lamar Smith, who serves on Space.
Closer to the ground, House Bill 1494, also known as the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act of 2001 would end commercial logging in national forests. It would also require the U.S. Forest Service
to restore these public lands to their pre-logging conditions and fund an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency for non-wood paper and alternative construction materials. Money for job retraining and worker relocation is included in the proposed legislation.
Not surprisingly, the timber industry, which gets less than 3 percent of its wood from national forests, opposes the bill.
Yet there are environmental and financial reasons.
Clearcutting and logging roads (there are 440,000 logging roads in national forests, more than the federal highway system) both ruin ecosystems and spoil the beauty of federal lands. Nor does logging make financial sense. According to the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, the U.S. Forest Service loses $1 billion a year to build roads for logging companies.
About 120 representatives have signed onto the bill, including only two Texas Congresswomen, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Sheila Jackson-Lee.
In Texas, there are 638,000 acres of national forests - many of which have already endured logging - concentrated in the eastern portion of the state. In addition, there is a San Antonio connection to the logging industry: Austin-based Temple Inland company is one of the state's largest timber companies (but logs its own private lands) and owns Lumbermen's - which is developing the PGA Village - and Guaranty Financial Services, which has several bank branches in San Antonio.