STATEMENT AND CALL TO ACTION RE: H.4415

In February 2020 H.897, a Bill Relative to Forest Protection and H.853, An Act to Assure the Attainment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goals of the Alternative Portfolio Standard, were combined with 2 other forest related bills into H.4415, An Act to Study Forest Management Practices ( see below).

H.4415 was reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. The bill is now in the Rules Committee of each chamber.

 

H.4415 will need to be shepherded through the Legislature by July 2020 and committee appointments will need to be made by the Governor, an often much delayed process, when we can afford no more delays. In addition, there are concerns regarding a potential lack of balanced perspective in the makeup of the committee.

Given the Covid-19 Pandemic, it seems unlikely that this legislation will pass by the July deadline, or that the committee will be appointed and able to meet its obligations within the parameters set by the bill.

The WENDELL STATE FOREST ALLIANCE regrets that the severity of the ongoing Climate Emergency has not impacted our Legislators enough to have moved H.897 and H.853 forward with the critical urgency our situation requires. The appointment of a “special legislative committee” to study management practices within the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is far too little, far too late and is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 required these agencies to engage in practices to mitigate carbon emissions, yet both continue to contract commercial logging on our public lands and Wildlife Management areas, releasing untold amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and reducing or in some cases eliminating, the carbon sequestration function of these lands and damaging habitats and the biodiversity of our forests.

There is increasing peer-reviewed science favoring Proforestation, leaving forests undisturbed, as the best and most economical means to capture and store carbon, protect forest biodiversity and significantly contribute to mitigation of the Climate Emergency.

There is also abundant scientific evidence that burning forest biomass for fuel cannot be regarded as a green alternative to fossil fuels.

 

Although often claimed to be “carbon neutral,” energy production from forest biomass actually releases more carbon dioxide per unit of electrical power than fossil fuels, and also produces large amounts of particulate pollution with serious negative effects on public health. Neither is this energy source “sustainable.” Although trees will eventually grow back, it takes decades for them to do so, far longer than the time we have, according to the UN’s IPCC and the rest of the climate science community.

The Climate Emergency is a global pandemic. The benefit that intact forests offer the Commonwealth must not be set aside for business as usual. There is no mandate to log our State lands. In Massachusetts, we are losing over 13 acres of forest/day to development.

A MORATORIUM on the commercial logging of State lands is the only immediate solution to preserving the life-sustaining benefits of intact forests. We can not wait for more study results and then undo the damage: logged trees can not be put back in place. Keeping our forests intact must be determined to be the most beneficial use of our State lands.

 

Governor Baker can issue this necessary MORATORIUM today. Please call and email Governor Baker (617-725-4005, constituent.services@state.ma.us) and demand that he honor the thousands of petition signatures calling for an immediate MORATORIUM on the commercial logging of our State owned lands. Sign the MORATORIUM Petition here: https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/moratorium-on-logging-1.

 

Governor Baker owns the destruction which is now taking place in our public forests under his watch, and it is his responsibility to stop this destruction immediately. A MORATORIUM will do just that.

 

FILED ON: 1/31/2020

HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No. 4415

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_______________

In the One Hundred and Ninety-First General Court

(2019-2020) _______________

An Act to study forest management practices.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. There shall be a special legislative commission, established and governed by section 2A of chapter 4 of the General Laws, to make an investigation and study relative to forest management practices within the Department of Conservation and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The scope of the commission’s inquiry shall include, but not be limited to, the study and investigation of the extent and adequacy of the management of state-owned and privately-owned forest land in the commonwealth, the study of the ecological soundness of different approaches to timber cutting, and policies as they relate to climate change, the role of biomass as a renewable or alternative energy source, the economic impact of the forestry industry, and chapter 132 of the General Laws, known as the forest cutting law. The commission shall be comprised of 1 Senator to be appointed by the Senate President who shall

   

serve as co-chair, 1 Representative to be appointed by the Speaker of the House who shall serve as co-chair, 1 person to be appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, 1 person to be appointed by the minority leader of the House, a representative of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, a representative of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation or designee, the Commissioner of Fisheries and Wildlife or a designee, and 4 members to be appointed by the Governor: 1 shall be a licensed private forester, 1 shall represent a Land Conservation Trust, 1 shall have experience in the management of forest land, and 1 shall be from a community with more than 30% state forest within its boundaries. The Commission shall meet not less than 4 times. The commission shall make recommendations based on its findings. In developing such recommendations, the commission shall hear the testimony of experts, cooperate with other groups or agencies working in the area of the commission’s interest, review studies and other literature on pertinent subjects and take advantage of the technical and professional expertise of its members. Said commission shall submit the results of its study and any recommendations, including drafts of legislation necessary to carry those recommendations into effect, by filing the same with the clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives on or before January 1, 2021

 
PETITION TO PROTECT MA FORESTS-Logging Moratorium

The petition calls for an immediate moratorium on logging on all Massachusetts state-owned lands, including woodlands, parklands, reserves, and watersheds managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and wildlife management areas managed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, excluding the cutting of trees proven to be necessary to protect public safety.

Our Massachusetts forests are critical in mitigating climate change, preserving native wildlife and habitats, safeguarding soils, providing clean air and water, and offering public recreation. Logging our forests harms these values, while protecting our forests from cutting enhances them. Keeping our forests standing would allow them to absorb and store carbon at an increasing rate for centuries to come. This would complement the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Now is the time to revisit our public forest policies to ensure the greatest possible benefit for this and future generations.

https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/moratorium-on-logging-1

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