Exxon wins battle over Tongass forest logging rules

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Exxon says the land in the Tongass National Forest is worth more than $200m a year in earnings Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a traditional hunting ground for the Inupiat…

Exxon wins battle over Tongass forest logging rules

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Exxon says the land in the Tongass National Forest is worth more than $200m a year in earnings

Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a traditional hunting ground for the Inupiat people, could lose millions of dollars of earnings to the US government under new rules.

The regulations, which the Interior Department and the US Department of Agriculture say are needed to protect two species of sea otters, require a permit for loggers.

Under the rules, if a timber sale fails to meet compliance, the government can seize all the logs.

Alaska officials are not happy about the move.

Image copyright AP Image caption The annual harvest in the Tongass Forest is similar to that of another national forest in Maine

They say it infringes on the Alaska’s state sovereignty and could shut down the local timber harvest.

Rebecca Fairbairn, a spokesman for the Tongass National Forest, said in a statement it was “baffling” the new regulations were imposed just five months after the sale fell through.

The settlement of the lawsuit over the sale “raised so many red flags that our forest supervisors reviewed it”, she said.

The land in the Tongass National Forest is valued at more than $200m (£151m) in timber sales per year, according to The Associated Press.

The timber industry would like to see the rules on the table, though, according to Neil Harl, from the National Association of Manufacturers.

“The [sale] last year was the first that was approved under a 2008 federal wildlife rule that specifically excluded the Tongass National Forest from the statute,” he said.

“Our position in no way would dictate that a timber sale proceed without a permit.”

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