Helena Independent Record: Testimony backs Tester forest bill

The U.S. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources heard testimony Wednesday mainly in support of Sen. Jon Tester’s revived Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, a few hours after a telephone conference call involving Rep. Denny Rehberg and others opposed to the bill.

Tester, a Democrat, is up for re-election in 2012, and Rehberg, a Republican who is challenging Tester, is accusing the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of being crafted behind closed doors by special interest groups. Tester, as well as both Democrats and Republicans who helped create the act, vehemently deny that allegation, and say Rehberg is making the bill a political issue instead.

“Representative Rehberg has had the opportunity to get on board with this jobs bill and to be a part of it. I have personally talked to him on several occasions from the very beginning,” said Sherm Anderson, the president of Sun Mountain Lumber and a former Republican state senator who testified before the committee Wednesday. “I’ve asked for his input. He even asked me to talk with several groups and try to negotiate.

“I tried, but they refused to sit down and talk with me because they have taken a ‘no more wilderness’ stance, and we are trying to move beyond that. … I’m saddened by the fact that Representative Rehberg is making this a political issue.”

Read the whole article >>