Subject: Oppose H.R. 1904
I write to urge you to oppose H.R. 1904, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003. The Senate will likely soon be asked to vote on this legislation, which recently passed the House of Representatives.
H.R. 1904 would damage public forests by authorizing road construction in roadless areas, blocking the public from participating in forest management decisions, and constricting the review of hazardous fuels reduction projects required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) -- all without providing any assurance to communities that they will be any safer from forest fires. In fact, scientific studies show that the increased logging and road building that would result from the bill may even increase the risk of fire.
There is no doubt that catastrophic wildfires pose a threat to many rural communities, and measures should be taken to address that threat. I also agree that the ecological health of our nation's forests may depend on changing the way they have been managed. But the answer does not lie in weakening environmental laws that have protected our wildlife and forests for 30 years.
Provided with the proper resources, the vast majority of forest thinning projects meant to prevent wildfire in the "wildlands-urban interface" -- the forest zone within a quarter mile of homes and communities where the need is greatest -- could proceed almost immediately under current law. For areas outside this interface, forest managers should develop new protocols for thinning and other fuel reduction projects that leave big, fire-resistant trees in place and eliminate the flammable small plants and woody debris that are typically left behind by commercial logging activities.
H.R. 1904, a drastic measure to exempt projects on the nation's forests from environmental laws on a broad scale, will accomplish none of this. It will only fuel controversy and, by strictly limiting citizen oversight, could potentially allow management practices that would actually increase the risk of catastrophic fires. For these reasons, I urge you to oppose it.
To: Senators and Rep
Subject: Oppose HJ Res 56
As your constituent, I urge you to oppose the "Federal Marriage Amendment" (H.J. Res. 56).
This measure would amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, as well as invalidate all the protections that many families currently enjoy.
I have read that this amendment would invalidate all legal protections for unmarried couples -- gay or straight. Those protections include basic safeguards against discrimination based on "marital status," state laws protecting unmarried elderly couples who refrain from marrying in order to hold on to their pensions, and even state laws allowing a person, in the absence of a spouse, to oppose the autopsy of a close friend because of the deceased person's religious beliefs.
I do not believe that the Constitution should be amended to limit state's expansion of civil rights. The proposed amendment would prohibit states from expanding their civil rights laws to protect gay and lesbian couples, or unmarried heterosexual couples, and their families. It would forbid states from serving their traditional role as testing grounds for stronger civil rights laws.
The Federal Marriage Amendment would reverse the constitutional tradition of protecting, not harming, individual freedoms. None of the current constitutional amendments restricts individual freedoms. In fact, the amendments to the Constitution have been the source of most of the Constitution's protections for individual liberty rights. The proposed amendment, by contrast, would deny all protection for the most personal decisions made by millions of families.
Again, I urge you to oppose this dangerous amendment.