Senate 2018 Farm Bill Statement

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) today released the following statement in response to the Senate passing the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation, which passed 86 to 11, shows strong bipartisan support for public lands and clean water.

The Senate bill does not include the controversial and dangerous provisions contained in the House Farm Bill, which was passed on strict party lines last week. The House bill includes a number of controversial provisions that would be especially damaging to the environment and public lands across the Southeast. Among other things, the bill would gut fundamental protections for clean water, create loopholes for major timber projects, and would effectively allow all timber sales on public lands to go forward without public participation.

“The House Farm Bill would take the ‘public’ out of public lands, wreaking havoc on our national forests by opening the door to massive clear-cutting, and undercut fundamental safeguards for clean water,” said Nat Mund, Director of Federal Affairs for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

In contrast, the Senate bill includes the Tennessee and Virginia Wilderness Acts, which together would preserve more than 25,000 acres of Southern National Forests with the strongest form of protection for any federal public land.

“It’s heartening to see these special, wild areas of both the Cherokee and George Washington National Forests receive such strong, bipartisan support by the Senate for protection for future generations,” said Sam Evans, National Forests and Parks Program Leader for SELC. “The Senate’s overwhelming support for these areas reflects their strong local support. The areas included in this bill protect clean water for communities, preserve outstanding hunting and recreation opportunities, and protect habitat for an astounding array of wildlife throughout the Southeast. We congratulate Senators Alexander and Corker in Tennessee and Senators Kaine and Warner in Virginia, for their efforts to protect these special places that define our region.”

Next, the House and Senate Farm Bills will move into a conference committee where the bills will be reconciled into a final version. According to Mund, the conference committee is a test of whether common sense can still prevail over partisanship: “We hope that leaders on the conference committee see the environmental attacks in the House Farm Bill as what they are—a direct attack on bedrock protections for our natural resources—and kick them to the curb where they belong.”

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Southern Environmental Law Center

For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 70 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. http://southernenvironment.org

Press Release