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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  June 27, 2016 4:25pm-6:26pm EDT

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common ground on litigation reform, expanding the balance of harms protections, closing loopholes that fringe groups that have exploited in the courtroom as we see in the cottonwood versus forest service case. can i get your commitment to work with us, to work with me and other members of this committee towards finding consensus for such solutions that can be incorporated into this emerging legislation? >> so we're happy to work with you. my concern about litigation is whether or not we can maintain a middle so we can move something forward. >> do you believe litigation is -- >> litigation is a challenge and a big challenge in your part of the world, no question. >> can you work with us to find some common ground. >> we'll continue to work with you. i just say understand -- >> that's not a yes. i can get a yes? >> absolutely we'll work with you. >> i appreciate that.
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we're at a point now and this is something when your phones are ringing, when you're seeing 100 montana families losing jobs because of lack of logs, when you're surrounded by timber something has got to change here. all right. thank you. >> thank you. first, i want to thank the chair and ranking member for their work on this issue. this issue of how we fund our forests and their management is critical to, you know, to communities across the west. it's absolutely critical in many communities in new mexico. as we speak right now the dog head fire continues to burn in the east mountains not far from my home in albuquerque, actually and last week we lost 24 homes, 21 other structures when that fire raced out of the mountains and into a subdivision. it is only thanks, really, to
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luck and favorable winds and the very hard work of our firefighters on the ground that the structure losses numbered in the dozens and not in the hundreds and that we had zero loss of life, thank goodness. this fire actually overlaps with a collaborative force project which includes partners like the nature conservancy, the chilean land grant and even though the neba crosses review on this project was completed back in 2012 the forest service didn't have the funds to pay to do the actual work in the forest. it took two more years for the project partners to come with the pounds to start the work and still only 7,000 of 12,000 acres in the project were treated before the fire was ignited. so it's hard not to think about how things might have been different if this entire area had been successfully treated and restored before fire broke
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out last week. i know we all wish the forest service could improve projects faster, more efficiently. fact is that project approval is only first hurdle in getting work done to make our forests healthier. without a robust and stable budget all the stream lining process in the world done get trees cut. i look forward to hearing our witnesses and what they have to say about tissue but we can't wait any longer to get large scale projects implemented in new mexico and for that matter across the west. undersecretary, bonnie, it's consuming a larger portion of the budget. last year for the first time the forest service spent more than half of its budget on fire activities and in 2025 it's expected to consume two-thirds of the budget. obviously this cuts out money, it crowds out money for nonfire related programs, recreational
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programs, personal firewood use permits which so important in new mexico, road and trail maintenance, forest restoration and watershed health. so i want to ask you, does this draft that we're discussing today do anything to address the growth over time in that ten year average? >> new york it doesn't. it just addresses the first problem i talked about, my testimony fire bore roger. >> if we fix the fire borrowing and don't take into account the continued changes we're seeing in climate what does that mean for the nonfire program over time? >> as you point out the biggest imperi impediment is lack of capacity. it's affecting everything, again, as you point out. and to your specific point on restoration, if we want to get more work done, we have to solve
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this problem. >> we have got to figure this out because we have projects all over in forests across new mexico where the community has come to a generalized consensus about what needs to be done. the relationships with the forest service are positive. people generally agree on what we need to be done and oftentimes much of the planning has been done, but we can't get the funding because we're spending it all on firefighting and we gientd a way to move that back over time. before my time expires, i want to ask you a little bit about the ponderosa pilot project. it describes eligible projects as hazardous fuel reduction projects. under the current draft would that include prescribed fires as well as mechanical thinning or do we need to clarify that because obviously the ideal is the first wave you go in and thin mechanically and that has a
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certain cost to it. then the second wave hopefully you maintain that by restoring fire into a firebase system at a much lower cost to the taxpayer. >> we would read it does include that but clarification i think would be welcomed. >> it looks like my time is expiring, madam chair. >> thank you, senator. thank you very much, madam chair. let me commend you and the bipartisan committee that went into this draft. i very much appreciate. i do indeed. madam chair and colleagues, ending the plague of fire borrowing is now the longest running battle since the trojan war, and it is time to bring this to an end. and, madam chair, i know it's a little unorthodox, but i want to give a little history on this on behalf of senator crapo and i.
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the two of us have worked together on this and with you. our proposal to end fire borrowing now has the support of 258 organizations and given the history on this, especially appreciate your desire to get this done before the next fire season, and in terms of advancing that effort would just like to put into the record the colloquy that 11 of us entered into a year ago and we said we would get it done in there credit you picked up on that proposition that now is clearly time. now, i want to make sure we're clear on the major issue with respect to the mix of ending fire borrowing and management. the chair and i have talked about this often because i have been supportive of management
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efforts as is senator crapo. the concern is if you take on too many difficult management issues you will not end fire borrowing and that has been the history. so it seems to me the chair and the ranking member on our side are saying here's where we would like to begin the discussion. we just want to make sure we end up getting something done. we want to get something done. and as the chair and i have talked about getting something done is also a bicamera effort. so, on the fire borrowing issue, i just want to make sure we're clear on the administration's position. i believe the administration believes that to deal with fire borrowing, you have to freeze and i use that word specifically, you have to freeze
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the amount of money that is spent on fighting fire on a ten year average and if you don't have a freeze or something that resembles a budget control to liken that we won't get that done. do you support the concept of a freeze. >> yes. we talked about the freeze and 70% in your legislation as well-to-do exactly what you're talking about. >> how about your colleague? what is his view with respect to this? >> thank you, senator. i'm in the same place. i think the administration's proposal of 70% as well as looking at 1% of fires and categorizing them as catastrophic wildfire and focusing on that element that will give us the flexibility to focus on landscape restoration. >> so, for purposes again -- i touched on with chairman and ranking minority members here as well, that's your take on what
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we need to do to fix fire borrowing. now as i've indicated i support management as well. i mean clearly management is a central part of this and certainly going to be a central part of getting any kind of agreement wither to body. mr. bonnie, what are the bipartisan opportunities for management reforms in your view? in other words, when the chair and ranking minority member representing all of us in these discussions as a house and we'll be working with you on this because i want to get it done this time, make it happen for the serious fire season, the other part of congress will insist on some management reforms. what are the kind of management reforms that could you support in those discussions? >> so i think you and many others here worked on the 2014 farm bill and some profit visions in there. they require collaboration. they require environmental safe guards. and i think using that as a
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basis and looking for things that, to use your thinking, something that we can get done, and i think there is common ground that we can find for across people in the conservation commune and industry and where else. >> my time super. can you get to the chair and ranking minority member and the rest of us on this committee the specifics of what management reforms the administration would support in addition to the effort to end finally once and for all the fire borrowing because that's going to have to be part of actually getting this done. >> yes. >> can we have that within two weeks? >> we'll try. >> we better have it within two weeks because fire season is on us and there aren't many days left in the congress. two weeks? >> i'm on it. >> thank you, madam chair. >> thank you. i appreciate you pushing for the specifics. as i mentioned in my opening statement it's my intention to
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be moving this, this proposal in a relatively direct manner and we don't have a lot of legislative days before we conclude for mid-july. so i would reiterate the request from senator wyden and ask that you be most expeditious within the next two weeks with specifics. let's turn to senator gardner. >> thank you, madam chair and thanks for holding this hearing and welcome to the committee, thank you very much for being here. thank you for the work on this discussion draft and to reaffirm my commitment to all of us to address this very critical issue. it's something i hear from county commissioners, legislators every time i go back to colorado. colorado as well as many western states who mostly on this committee talked about today, i'm sure, impact significant
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loss that can occur from a forest fire, the issues of funding and staff to manage the forest, a big issue and of course with over 14 million national land, grasslands, it's all affected by drastic impacts we've had from budget reductions and other things how we currently fund wildfire suppression. mr. bonnie, thank you for being here. thanks for working with my office on these issues but we got to find an end to this fire borrowing practice. just this past week we saw a wildfire in northwestern colorado. the beaver creek fire. not what many people think beaver creek, different area of beaver creek, colorado but on the colorado/wyoming border area. we've been in touch with forest service officials and that you feel f-- thankful for the work the firefighters are doing at this time. so this is an important issue in
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real-time. i am concerned that the recreation program in the country is most heavily visited. reports have shown this forest lost 40% of budget and staff in the last five years while the recreation use has continued to increase. again most heavily visited national forest. one of the most negative kbagts, negative effects of this trends the agency is unable to be a responsible partner to deliver recreation to visitors. it's home to several world class ski resorts. during the forest service budget hearing in 2017 i asked chief tidwell how the agency planned to address this issue in the white river forest and since then he's agreed to meet with me and ski resorts in early july to further address this question. i very much appreciate that commitment and ask you if you're aware to address the immediate issues with the white river forest? >> we used to have eight full time staff members that worked
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direct wli tly with the city in and now we're two. we're not providing the level of service we need. it's a capacity problem. i've been in touch with folks from the ski industry, talked to two are willing to be engaged and how to solve this problem. >> turning now to another area of colorado, the durango southwestern railroad. an incredible railroad, great part of our history, crown jewel in colorado and really the west. but because it's a coal fired old railroad they are required to have firefighting capabilities to address any spot fires that couple. these firefighting capabilities they possess include water tanks, pumps following the train and a helicopter that is on stand by to make water drops. so while the railroad is rightfully responsible for addressing fires, it's my understanding they are prohibited from fighting fires which come up beyond the rights of way in the forest service land and must instead just
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report it instead of actually using their resources to help fight it. on november 17, 2015 i asked questions of this committee during a hearing on wildfires, we talked about certification issues, and how they can be empowered to fight fires before they get out of control. section 201 requires a single system for credentialing federal and state and provide interim acceptance of standards. it's my hope ending 12401 will address this situation. could you talk more about forest service's policies towards partnerships with private entities like the durango railroad? >> we do a lot of work with contractors to provide helicopters. the vast majority are through contractors. the caution i will raise on the certification issue has to do with air safety. we have had a number of accidents and so the standards we set are very important for
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the forest service, safety comes first. happy network with your office on the issue. the flag i would raise we just want to make sure whatever we do we're being as safe as we can. >> thank you. look forward to ongoing conversation. again thanks for the work you're doing in colorado as we speak. >> thank you, madam chair, and thank you for the work that you and your committee have done. last year chief tidwell testified to this committee on the interaction of wildfire and climate change as chief shared scientists at the forest service believe climate change is one of the major factors leading to recent trends of longer fire seasons with wildfires that are larger and more intense. in fact, fire seasons are now on average nearly 80 days longer
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than they were in 1970, and wildfires burn twice as many acres today as they did 30 years ago. our climate is warming and we are experiencing unfamiliar and unprecedented conditions, drought may be the new normal. invasive species and insect outbreaks may be the new normal. larger than average fire seasons may be the new normal. und undersecretary bonnie, in your opinion, to what extent has climate change driven the increases in fire suppression costs that we have been seeing? >> there's no question it has had a significant impact. we're seeing larger, more catastrophic fires. it's not the only thing. it's also because we've taken more natural fires out of these eco systems we built fuel loads up. we have more development in the wildlife urban interface that
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drives costs up. >> so clearly climate change has a cost and this cost is having a serious impact. >> yes. >> on your agency. unfortunately my colleagues across the aisle seem to be in denial about the real cost of climate change and for some of them, whether climate change even exists. do you expect the costs to rise as climate change continues to get worse? >> yes. and scientists believe will double the acreage we're burning by mid-century. >> in minnesota none native invasive species are a problem. unfortunately the invasive emerald ash bore has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees throughout the u.s. since it was first detected in 2002.
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undersecretary bonnie i want to thank for the work you're doing combat emerald ash bore in my state and throughout the country but i'm concerned that the growing cost of wildfire suppression is draining your budget and hindering some of this and other great work that the forest service is doing outside of fighting wildfires. in fact, the forest service has, i think, as has been mentioned in this hearing that's 39% fewer staff in nonfire positions today than it did less than 20 years ago. so, mr. undersecretary, as you know it's not uncommon for staff or funds to get transferred mid-season to fight wildfires. the bill we're addressing today addresses the wildfire bill issue but doesn't fix wildfire
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suppression costs continue to groin overall forest budget. isn't that right? >> that's right. >> okay. that you feely minnesota typically doesn't experience catastrophic fires we see out west. but the ever expanding cost of wildfire suppression still significantly impacts my state. i want to make sure that any wildfire legislation addresses the needs of minnesota. so that we too can tackle our most threatening issues like the emerald ash bore and protect our most treasured resources. anything i would like to see in any comprehensive fire legislation is finding a market for fuel and forest wastes. communities are increasingly built at the wildland urban interface and heavily wooded areas where they're at risk from economic damage from forest fires. we know that. removing hazardous fuel like under brush and immature trees
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can also help reduce the severity of wildfires especially when this is done right around communities year or within our forests. i see an opportunity to help pay for the removal of hazardous fuels by using this waste as a source of electricity for nearby communities. this could simultaneously reduce fire risk and bring economic benefit, bring heat and power and other facilities that use this as options. undersecretary bonnie, once it is cut, what is done with hazardous fuel today? >> well so in many places we're paying people to remove them. to your point if we had greater markets for hazardous fuels we would actually be able to get more work done. forest service is making investments here but there's more to do.
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the budget constraints we're operating under makes it more difficult. >> i know i'm over but can i ask this one last half a question. okay. in your experience, what are the major road blocks to using hazardous fuel for biomass power, you know, as we were saying could help both mitigate fire risk and play a role. >> one of the challenges is the lack of markets and cheap natural gas and other things. so it's going to require investment. >> thank you. >> thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, madam chair. i'm trying to figure out relationships here between fires, climate change and management of the forests, and my impression is and i think your chart indicates this but i may be wrong, that part of preventing fires is more
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intensive management of the forest, is that correct >> yes. >> and yet the increase in fires is kind of a vicious circle, the increase in fires is sopping up so much of your budget you don't have the money left to do the management which makes fires more likely which then takes the budget. is that the dynamic in play >> we can't do the management at the scale we need in order to confront the problem, that's right. >> so we really need to be talking about different ways of funding the fire danger that doesn't eat up the rest of your budget. i met with secretary vilsack this week but as i recall the fire budget is basically eating up everything else. >> yeah. typically spend more than half of our budget now just on firefighting. if you add in other fire costs kit go north of that. >> i think he said 15, 20 years ago it was about 20%. >> about one sixth. >> now it's over half >> yes. >> i think the point i'm getting
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at and i think you confirmed is that to the extent that happens and crowds out spending on other forest management, for example clearing the undergrowth, selective thinning in turn make more fires -- fires more likely? >> that's exactly right. and in states like maine, we're -- you don't have as much federal land. we're working with your state forresters to provide help to them so they can work with private land owners. and the budget funds are less as well. >> madam chair, that's all i have. i think this is a very important issue. i know you recognize that we're in inadvertently making the fires worse. thank you. >> thank you, senator king. and i think that the discussion was -- is important recognizing that when you borrow from other
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accounts to pay for see pruuppr that, doesn't work. it's no sustainable. i think to make sure we get this right is very important. i have multiple questions that i'd like you to answer for the record. including one that is specific to the issue of an updated resource needed based on that ten year average. so you'll see that. again, if you can provide responses as quickly as possible to the committee that will be greatly, greatly appreciated. i'd like to do another round but we have six more on the second panel that we want to make sure that we get to before the noon hour. so we will excuse both of you and thank you for appearing before the committee this morning. thank you. >> thank you.
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and this next panel is finding their seats. go ahead and, please, i will introduce each of you to the committee. and i'll offer apologies on behalf of other colleagues on the committee this morning.
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senator rish was here a few minutes ago whispering in my ear, i have three different committees meeting at the same time. don't take this as an indication of lack of interest. but can you only be at one place at a time. least that's what we believe. i'd like to welcome the second panel before the committee. we'll lead off with peter gold mark, commissioner of public lands. the washington state department of natural resources, nice to you have here. he will be followed by julia altimus, executive director of the montana wood products association. followed by rebecca humphries. miss humphries is the chief conservation officer at the national wide life turkey federation. we appreciate you being here this morning. mr. peter nelson is with us. he is the senior policy adviser for federal land, defenders of wildlife. welcome. mr. eric nichols is a
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constituent from the state of alaska. he's a partner at alcan forest products. rounding out our panel is mr. kim himlock, the director for cal fire. welcome to each of you. i would ask that you keep your comments to less than five minutes. your full statement will be included as part of the record. but again, we want to be able to get through everyone's testimony and have an opportunity for a few questions before we have to conclude just around noon. so dr. goldmark, if you would like to lead us off. thank you all. >> good morning. chairman, senators, members of the committee, to begin with, i'd like to thank the senators for their leadership and dedication to improving response and resources for wildfires. i appreciate the invitation to appear before you today. my name is peter goldmark. i am the commissioner of public lands for the state of
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washington. elected directly by the people of my state, i am charged with managing and protecting washington's natural resources. for over 150 years, citizens of our state have looked eastward for help and partnership from congress on critical issues. today, one of those critical issues is wildfires. and i appreciate this opportunity. that responsibility that i bear includes leading our states fire fight against wildfire and overseeing forest hills across all jurisdictions and all ownerships. recently, it has been heavy responsibility to bear. they have lost about 4.5% of washington state to wildfire over the past two catastrophic years. and most terrible of all was the death of three young
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firefighters who died protecting homes during the twist river fire last august. the landscape is horrific to witness and difficult to bring to the halls of olympia or the halls of washington, d.c. it has created a hotter, drier landscape. our forests are sick and ripe for wildfire. for too many years investments in forest health, thinning and fuel reduction have not kept pace with the amount of risk on the landscape. we know what we need do to allow washington to remain the ever green state. using fuel reduction treatments
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and prescribed fire when appropriate. there is broad community and scientific support for accelerated forest restoration. i encourage you to develop the pine pilot concept discussed in title three, subtitle d to achieve the faster needed pace of restoration. we dpenld on our forest for clean wear the, wildlife habitat, jobs, and carbon storage. they are a resource to con kerve r ser -- conserve and froekt. since i took office in 2009, i secured $25 million in state investment to build resill yenlt forest. sadly, federal investment has not kept up. this legislation under consideration would end the practice of fire borrowing that robs from prevention and fuel treatment programs. however, it does not address the continued structural erosion of
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the forest service land management budget by rising fire costs. a different budget formulation that eliminates use of the ten year average of suppression costs or at least freezes it in time is crucial to a realistic federal wildfire budget policy. failure to fix this problem will trap us in a cycle of more costly fires. others before me have acknowledged this. you, senator mccall ski know full well of this problem. i'm speaking, of course, in support of this draft proposal. including of particular concern to me is credentials for firefighters and aircraft must be safe. we must expand the use of drones and particularly retardant aircraft to keep fires small. a location tracking system will help keep fire crews safe. expansion use of fire risk maps
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will give communities knowledge and tools to prepare for wildfire and improve telecommunications infrastructure will help people who live in fire prone areas keep track of evacuations and road closures if wildfire threatens. i believe we are at a critical moment. these last two wildfire seasons are a brutal warning. we must now do the vital work as described in this discussion draft to prepare for and respond to wildfires. thank you. >> thank you, dr. goldmark. appreciate your considered remarks. mrs. altemus. i hope i'm pronouncing that correct. >> that's g. >> thank you. >> good morning. i'm julia altemus, executive director of the montana wood association and a policy committee. i want to thank you for this opportunity to testify today. we shapt efforts of the
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committee and the ranking member and as well as the senators to tackle the tough issues facing the forest service. we are committed to finding workable solutions to the problems of the federal forest management and borrowing and stand ready to work with the committee. the montana wood products industry is in montana. we're the primary sector with roughly 7500 direct and indirect jobs, payroll of $319 million and sales of $900 million. roughly two-thirds of montana's timber base is managed by federal agencies. and the last quarter century, we have lost 30 mills, including the two yesterday, and roughly 4,000 jobs as a direct result of litigation and declining timber sales. none of the mills are at full capacity and all depend on a sustainable supply of federal timb timber. according to dat yashgs montana's federal forest grew 476 million wood fiber annually.
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510 million cubic feet or will 8% suffers annual mortality of the direct result of insects and disease. we only harvest about 4.5% of the annual growth and 5% of the mortality each year. leading to chronic buildup for fuels. the forest service lacks authorities to plan and implement immediated management projects in a timely fashion. restoration and vegetative treatments can take years to get through only to meet opposition by fringe groups critical of timber harvest. the 2014 farm bill provides some tools to address these issues and region one if very creative in their approach and is moving as quickly as possible but to date only one project is depending decision, seven are under analysis and 19 are on deck. with 82 million acres identified by the forest service as high priority landscape nationally, we fear that new tools and the
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250 20 2014 farm bill are not enough. we applaud your commitment to solving our toughest challenges, prying us with a suite of tools to increase the pace and scale of resource management and restoration. our written statement makes specific recommendations and we offer the following thoughts. under title i, we appreciate the budget chair relief provided by this title but would urge you to consider freeding the ten year average at the 2015 levels and expand the use of wildfire risk reduction projects to lands and fire regime four. this is particularly important for the work in the northern rockies as these landscapes traditionally lack h class diversit diversity. there are 180,000 acres in one, 175 acres of those are in montana alone. title three, we're concerned about limiting the use of streamline nipa in lands designated as critical habitat.
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montana has 3.6 million designated acres in the base much of which is susceptible to catastrophic fire. it is important to add the lands to the mix. the need to treat fuels in dry and wet forest type is the same. communities surround bid forest types experience low frequent, high intensity filed wire are he is same for loss of life and property. up to three things that drive wildfire, fuel, topography and weather, the only driver we can modify is fuel. the above mention addresses nipa and timely scale. what doesn't address is how to con front legal challenges affecting the implementation. montana suffered the tim war wars for decades. in order to break the gridlock, local people representing diverse interests have gathered to find solutions to tough issues. over the years roughly 30 collaboratetives have formed. they're working together with an agreement that includes restoring ecological function, offers economic stability, and honors social values.
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even so, fringe groups continue to challenge projects in court. currently there are 220 million board feet of timber in litigation, 45 million board feet and 202 board feet under objection. this will impact a51,000 acres. projects under litigation affect 45,000 truck loads of logs and thousands of jobs. montana wood products association suggests judicial reforms are needed. i'm about out of time. so i will be happy to offer that for further discussion. we in closing do want to thank you for all your efforts in bringing this draft discussion to the -- to us. and we know that forest service is working hard to solve these problems. but they do need your help. thank you. >> thank you. we appreciate the specifics that you offered the committee. miss humphries, welcome. >> thank you, good morning. my name is becky humphries. i am the chief conservation officer for the national wild
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turkey federation. and a prior life i was also the agency director in the state of michigan that oversaw the management of a four million acre state forest system and the wildlife chief. the turkey fed sahratian a nationwide nonprofit. we do on the ground conservation work. we're originally formed to restore the wild turkeys to the original has bebitat in this country. but we now shifted into save the habitat, save the hunt. and through this initiative, we're a large partner with the u.s. forest service. we have state chapters in every state of the nation and we also have a team of biologists and forresters that work on the landscape. we have one of first stewardship agreements. we have a formal partnership with the u.s. forest service and continues today and we delivered thousands of projects across the united states. we're leader in stewardship contracting and even though we don't have a mill and do anything with the wood products, but through stewardship contracting we're consistently
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listed as one of the top ten timber buyers in the country. a few years ago we were number five. we strongly support the discussion draft we have before us today. we appreciate the committee is considering both the fixed fire borrowing and active management of our forests. we feel strongly they go hand in glove. we must fix both if we're going to be successful. we strongly applaud active management. wildlife people across this kun friday know that diversity is the key to really good wildlife habitat out. there wildlife sadz food, water, shelter and space to live. active management creates that diverse tichlt lack of prosecute management results in species declines. and in the eastern united states, 59% of the bird species depend on young forest declined over last two decades. we have species like the golden wing bird that is a candidate for the endangered specie act.
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rough grouse that used to be very, very prevalent have disappeared in the midwest and eastern united states. and wild turkey population is declining. the growth a keystone species and was found in pine savannahs is really represents 36 o other wildlife species and landscape that is needed by that habitat. the western u.s., we see similar situations. we manage for old growth and we may benefit only 14 spesies. but while there are over 7 o species that are dependent on the young forest types. we need to do more for those species. the u.s. forest service allocates funding and guidance to provide such young habitat. the fire borrowing as we heard today and a broken management system preclude us from getting that work done. the pace of creating young forests needs to greatly increase if we noed to are goin successful. as we look at the fire system on
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budget, you theerd day, over 50% of it is going into fire suppression efforts. there are real consequences to. this when i look at the fire systems and the fire activities that have occurred, we've seen over 60% on some of the fire areas that are most fire prone. and severely hampered our efforts. the rolling ten year average is outlined in the bill is an improvement, for sure. but we really need to freeze it as we talked about so that we don't concede to money that available to do active management. we request the committee consider using it as a benchmark the ten year, the last ten year average for that and freeze the fed amount. we acknowledge the jurisdiction and you to move forward and work with them on trying to find a resolution to. that we strongly support collaborative and the provisions of those in action and no action. we really think that can affect state agencies, management
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capabilities and wildlife. and the national wildlife turkey federation partners with every wildlife agency and that state federal cooperation is really important. i think will it will enhance. that we support collaboratetives that qualify for expedited review, restricting alternatives reduces joefrt head and breaks the gridlock and pals we see in our system. management needs to be returned to the professionals. in moving forward on a couple items, we strongly support the pine forest and the dry site. what we can do to help move that forward, we think that's g also tongas national forest, we think it's prudent to do that inventory. we think maintaining the markets in the local economy is very important. overall, we strongly applaud your efforts to move this forward.
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thank you. >> thank you, appreciate it plchlt nelson, welcome it. >> thank you. thank you chair and senators. my name is pete nelson. i'm a senior policy adviser. i manage our forest policy program. thank you for inviting my testimony today. i've been involved for 20 years. i'm a member of the federal advisory committee overseeing implementation of the 2012 planning rule. and i'm also a member of the deer lodge working group in southwest montana. we're at a new era of wildfire. warming climate is drying out western forests and leading to more and larger wildfires. and a longer fire season. just look at california and new mexico today. however, existing policies and approaches are not adapted to this new reality. wildfire budget is a prime example. the current budgets structure is not capable of responding to
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today's wildfires. and it's costs spiral out of control. the wildfire budget con sumdz assumes the very programs essential to sustaining communities and forests over the long term. without a comprehensive fix to that problem, anything else we try will be futile. they could lose all the values they provide. while we approve planning for the communities, wildfire risk mapping and the urban interface and other management provisions in the discussion draft do not work and may, in fact do, more harm than good. you can't sol to have day's problems with yesterday's thinking. proposals to bypass nipa and undermine public review are outdated and ineffective. we need innovative approaches to forest restoration. producing defensible projects requires smarter, not less,
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analysis. we simply cannot legislate our way to good decisions. the short cuts are not likely to yield better outcomes on the ground. for example, limiting analysis to alternatives may ignore better solutions. while increasing the likely h l of making uninformed decisions. we can't take that for the sake of kpeexpediency. a letter submitted to this committee by organizations, many of which are involved in collaborative restoration, highlights opposition to the discussion draft and specifically the controversial nature of some of the forest management. such short cuts can undermine on going collaborate-restoration activity.
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we need to build and be adaptable to today's complex challenges. someone that's been involved in the collaboratetives, i don't see a nipa problem, i see a capacity and restoration planning problem. we need incentives to plan and implement forest restoration that can improve conditions and achieve project level efficiencies. the success of the four or five project in arizona demonstrates that large land xap -- landscape projects can work. the project in oregon and the black foot swan restoration project in montana southwest crown. the proposed pilot program reflects this new resiliency thinking. it makes sense to prioritize restoration in a forest type. we have a good understanding of restoration needs, science, and practices. it also makes sense to prioritize risk reduction in the right places like the wild land
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interface. the pilot program goes down the wrong road and the use of an emergency circumstance framework for planning projects. the proposal authorizes designation of preemptive emergency treatment zones where the normal rules for nipa don't apply. this may be unworkable. first we don't think the scene can be effectively applied because we don't have the scientific ability to predict where or when the next big wildfire will occur for the purposes of declaring an emergency situation. in addition, while we have a grave risk to public safety warrant emergency response, nonimminent threats do not justify normal decision making and review standards. we also oppose the inclusion of the tongas revision provision in the wildfire policy bill. it blocks a needed transition. it is inappropriate for congress to upset a robust plan prague ses, more than 1 of165,000
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individual have participated. they have to proceed with the amendment and now is the time for transition. thanks. >> welcome. >> thank you for the opportunity to speak today. i spent 40 years last 40 years in the private side of the timber industry here. 25 of those years have been in alaska, the last 14 years as order of timber companies in alaska buying and harvesting timber sales from land owners including the u.s. forest service. the industry today sont verge of going away due to lack of consistent timber supply. all federal and state timber sales are being delayed with litigation and appeals by environmental groups opposed to all timber harvest. the u.s. forest service, the timber industries, the communities of southeast alaska, and even some conservation groups all say they want a timber industry. the sprob you cannot have a viable timber industry without a
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land base for growing and harvesting timber. prior to 1976, five million acres was managed for timber. by 1980, sh was reduced to three million acres. the 2008 plan further reduced it to 663,000 acres and now the new plan amendment will take it down to 251,000 acres of young growth forest. i was told by a conservation person we do not have the timber available today because we cut it all. there are 16.8 million acres in tongas. commercial grade forest make up 4.6 million acres. 420,000 acres have been previously harvested. i think my math is pretty correct. we have 3.2 million acres of old growth timber remaining in the tongas. the plan amendment will restrict the industry to 251,000 acres of young growth and a small volume of old growth for next markets. this is 7% of the commercial
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timber acres and a little over 1% of the tongas national forest. the forest service, i think the state of alaska, has done a good job in protecting our tourism. we have over one million people a year coming on cruise ships. our salmon runs are strong. the fishing industry is doing very well. we have no endangered species on the forest. but we have a timber industry with one small saw mill, four timber harvesting companies left, and a handful of mills. our rural communities are doing well from 2000 to 2014, 22 of the 32 communities in southeast alaska has lost population. the plan amendment will forever change the timber industry in southeast. once it is in place, it never gets better for the industry. only more restrictions as time goes forward so it cannot be undone. the plan has to work or there will be no timber industry. so so to have a viable timber
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industry, we have to have economically viable timber sales. simple but not when you have declaning land base for growing and harvesting tim baern a rugged remote area with high costs and now only a market commodity product to sell. my issues with the u.s. forest service is not how many of the young growth we can harvest economically or legally. we look at the tongas and the fall down acres. with the 250,000 acres we have changing regulations from when this was cut originally. we lose land to visual constraints, additional fish streams will be found, limestone islands will have to be protected and slopes cannot be cut a second time. additional protection for wildlife, we're going to have to get them to do the economic viability. small isolated patches of timber suppress small timber stands, high elevation, high costs and all decrease. my fear is we'll see a
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significant number of acres lost to fall down especially in the old age stands that were harvested with few restrictions. my fear is the timber industry cannot be feasible with this amendment so it's best to firn the crews, rerun the mold and see how much sustainable economic timber will be available. i would like to finish my testimony with the words from president theodore roosevelt who signed a legislation creating the tongas national forest. this is what he had to say about forest policy. you can never afford to forget for a moment what is the object of a forest policy. that is not the preserve the forest because they're beautiful, though that is good in itself, nor because the refuge for the wild creatures of the wilderness though that is good in itself. but the primary objective of our forest policy has a land policy of the united states is to making of prosperous homes. government legislation, rulemaking and administration over national forests no longer
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resemble what these national forests were created for and set aside for management by the government. our land management and broken and not serving the people well. it has to be fixed by sound forest management and not by politics. thank you for your type. >> thank you. i appreciate you traveling a long way. welcome. >> good morning. thank you. good morning chair and ranking member and senators. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. not only on behalf of california but my peers around the country through the national association of state forresters. as california's chief of cal fire and state forrester, we're responsible for the protection of over 31 million acres of wild lands within the state. that's about one-third of the land base in california. and as we know, it's going currently on right now in the state, significant fire challenges. what is no different across the west and the rest of the country, although land bases may differ, in 2014 statistics
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indicate that 80% of the fires fell within the jurisdictions of state and private lands and under that the state forestry agencies. so the states around the country, no different than california, play significant and key roles in dealing with fire and forestry issues. i think the committee obviously has a very clear handle on the fire and resource management forest help challenges in the country. that clearly indicated this morning. again, i will just emphasize that in california, the fire problem and forest management problem is real. as i speak swreshgs five major fires burning in the state. 4600 firefighters on the fire lines. just in the last week we responded to over 250 fires and that's 2,000 fires just since january 1st. we're still within a significant drought which has gone on for the last five years. and like we talked about earlier in this hearing, record kinds of fires we talked about that in
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washington state. we've seen that in colorado, california just last year had two of the top ten most damaging fires in the state's history. the fire challenge, the fire problem is only getting worse. not just drought, changing climates, unmanaged or undermanaged forest throughout the state both on federal and private lands are significantly contributing to the challenges that we're facing. when fires burn, 20,000 acres in just five hours, those are the conditions that we are facing and we'll continue to face as we go into, again, another potentially disastrous fire season. in california, this is exemplified now by significant tree mortality. secretary announced yesterday that over 66 million trees in the central and southern sierra have now succumbed to epidemic levels of insect mortality.
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we've seen this throughout the west in a number of western states and now california has taken that challenge with multiple counties declaring localized or county level disasters and then in october of last year governor brown declared a statewide emergency proclamation to deal with this disaster. we're looking at this and collaborating through multiple means, trying to address immediate life safety threats. but it's involving landscape levels projects and activity with partners at all levels of government. using tools such as got neighbor authority under the farm bill to allow us to reach across boundaries to collaborate and get the biggest bang for the buck and leverage everything that we have to get most work done and to make the biggest difference that we can. fixing wildfire funding is key to all of this. as the undersecretary bonnie indicated this morning, we -- and others -- we continue to
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borrow money from other program areas that are critical to getting ahead of the problem. while we must main taun a robust response across this country, we can't underfund our federal agencies on the front end. we must ensure strong response. but that decision continues to take money to keep that going from other programs are only going to continue to perpetuate lack gf forest management, lack rev deu of reducing fuels and continued fires like we're seeing right now. >> discussions through this legislation and others right now california has over 125,000 acres of actually nipa ready projects in just three impacted national forests. we need at built to leverage additional funding to get more work done in those areas. and certainly like to go forward and look at opportunities, working through the nipa process to see if we can't do more work
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and work through nipa to get more work done and have the capacity to do just that. looking at the pilot, it is critical. much of the area being impacted in california are our mixed forests. significant component of those forests are ponderosa pine. we welcome the opportunity to look at a pilot project that addresses that. fire risk mapping is also critical. we worked as a state along with many other states in addressing and using that information to develop hazard maps and to identify land use planning potential. so certainly look at the opportunity to work together on that. and lastly, i will close with the just recognizing that fires know no boundaries. we as organizations and first responders, state, federal, or local, should know and need to know no boundaries. california learned that a long time ago when we had separate communication frequencies, separate terminology and weren't
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working together. so very true looking forward and working on joint process to look at processes and criteria that are agreed to by all agencies when we're sharing resources across boundaries. thank you. >> thank you for your communication before the kbht today. i will yield first to senator dane. >> thank you. thank you for having this hearing today. julia and peter, welcome, as two fellow montanans. good to you have here. julia, twint echo your testimony about how devastating excessive regulations and unending litigation has been to montana's wood products work forest and the help of our forests. i think really illustrates what's going on in montana. the observation that we are harvesting only 5% of dead trees and 4.a% of the annual growth is startling. especially considering that
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nearly 7 million federally controlled acres in montana are at high risk for wildfires. my question is, you could elaborate on how increasing active management is critical to both protecting wood product jobs and importantly reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires in montana and across many parts of the west? >> thank you for that question. i will be happy to address it. increasing management, specifically in montana, for the economic analysis for million board is usually 11 jobs created for every one million board foot harvested. now you can't just multiply that by, you know, the inventory sitting on landscape. a lot of the loggers are going to do the work and move to the next project and then do the work. it would impact hundreds of jobs the we're usually short, you know, 60 million or 8 o board feet of timber a year. increasing it to 60 to 80
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million board feet, we would increase the mills by 80%. now they're running at auto%. one shift, 60%. so it's not a lot that we need. but it's critical that that raise is critical. so that addresses the economic. but as far as getting at that seven million acres of dead and dying, it will continue to grow. it will continue to burn. and we will continue to eat up a majority of the fire budget if we don't address the issues. >> so you looked at the discussion draft. and they're pushing for these revisions. what do you think is most helpful? >> thank you, senator. impediments to success are certainly the cast of forest
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service. so they're under title one. if there was additional money, that would be very, very helpful. that's number one. under title three, some of the provisions and action provision is, i believe, is important. it works and it works within the collaborative context as well. so that one is important. i would suggest and part of our written testimony is to add provisions under 106 as far as bounds with harm. that is proven in court. that is not partst discussion. i would encourage you to look at that and add it. i'm not sure about the pilot. in montana we have dry pine and ponderosa pine forest. honestly, we have a lot of lodge pine. that is where a majority of our issues are. so as i said in my testimony, dry forests are at risk. but wet forest and low frequency
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but high intensity fires are also at risk. we would encourage you to think about that changing those fuel loads as well. >> thank you for the input on that. and i want to talk about litigation relief and the need for it. your testimony you indicate that hundreds of millions of board feet are incumbered by litigation. if montana loggers and mills had faster inr uninhibited access to that volume, roughly how many montana jobs would be sustained or possibly created? >> like i said in my testimony, just under litigation alone, we've got about 44,000 truck loads that could be impacted. not all of that is under preliminary injunction. some can move forward. a lot is not being advertised. if we could at least acknowledge that we have a problem, it's been difficult for some folks to acknowledge that -- or even the forest service -- to acknowledge we have a problem and then work together to find a path forward to resolving that that doesn't
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require opening up equal access to justice. there are other things that i have in my written testimony that are good for discussion. but as far as the jobs, again, you can't just do that multiplier. but it would be probably a neighborhood of 300 or 400 jobs. we lost 500 last year. we'll lose 200 this year. >> thank you for quantity fiing it. peter, thank you for coming from montana. i do appreciate your participation. i've been a proponent of collaborative efforts. thank you for that. as i previously noted, 21 active lawsuits going on in montana. 13 on projects developed through the collaborative process. and nearly all of them involve groups that are not of the collaborative process. notwithstanding your concerns iy respect them, do you acknowledge that litigation is a problem in montana and has undermind the work of collaboratives and has slowed important restoration work to our national forests? >> thank you, senator.
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good to be around so many montanans. >> i think we're limited in our team's ability to go out and analyze and get projects ready. we've seen all sorts of capacity and resource challenges there. people are frustrated. i've worked with members of your staff sh members of the montana wood products association are forest service is frustrated. people are frustrated. >> you work in a collaborative process. >> i do. >> i appreciate that. again swreshgs 13 to 21 lawsuits again -- do you think litigation incumbers this? >> the collaborative processes can lead to better decisions, more durable decisions.
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>> does the litigation slow us down? >> litigation plays a role in the system. >> so you say it doesn't slow us down? it's not slowing us down, getting the collaborative projects approved? >> compared to what may normally happen, i suppose it does. it slows us down. but you don't -- montanans care about the public land. we need to keep the processes open. this is a challenge. people are frustrated. i hear that from you. i hear that. we want to get the work done. working with the farm bill authorities, we have a ce moving outside of butte. we're trying to get work done. people are rolling up their sleeves. this is not easy. we're committed to doing this work. my fear is that if we come in too strong on this, we're going to see more conflicts, in fact. so i just to urge caution.
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where you're going with that line of questioning. >> the disruption right now is the collaborative process is moving through, the disruption is we move through long, collaborative unifying processes, fringe groups come in at the end and file suits. and basically stop all the projects made in the collaborative. that is the frustration. >> collaboratives have to develop winning solutions that are durable based on best science and can move forward and be implemented. that's the strength of the collaborative process. >> i'm way over that. >> that allows us to do. that. >> thank you. >> thank you. i allow -- >> i appreciate the exchange. >> i think the bottom line is that litigation delays. and sometimes litigation can intended to do nothing more than delay. i think my friend and colleague from montana see that's. we see that in alaska. you're on the receiving end of it. senator kentwell. >> thank you, madam chair.
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i want to thank mr. nelson for his comments about nipa and the challenges that we would face it we made the change that's are in the draft. it could lead to more complexity than we realize. i certainly understand the senator from montana's frustration. we have a lot of collaborative that's have worked in our state, too. and want to give you something before you leave. i'll leave it right here so we don't -- can you grab it right now. thank you. >> so i think the issue for me is this research that's been done on the pine pilot. i don't know if mr. pimlot or mr. nelson or mr. goldmark you want -- not that i'm excluding anyone else from commenting on it. but a university released a finding how much the fire risk you would reduce by reducing some of that fuel. and the number was so large that i don't even know how to get my head around it. it's pretty hard when you think
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about what happened to think that just some fuel reduction might have prevented 100 million acres in one afternoon being destroyed. nonetheless, we now have research that does show that this kind of fuel reduction is making an impact. so i wanted to talk about any of those real life examples that you know about. and we had the carpenter fire road where we made improvements. any of these areas where you actually seen the fuel reduction work? what they're trying to finalize is done strategically, you are reducing the size of the fire. and that is, i think, what we -- knowing that conditions are so explosive, i think this is what we have to aim for.
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i don't know if you want to give examples of that. >> thank you for that question. we had many large fires. as you know in, the state of washington. this fire season set new records. as a matter of fact, i have recently toured the tripod fire which occurred in 2006. 180,000 acre fire that cost $180 million to suppress. in that fire which was very large fire as well as the carlton fire and others where there has been active management before the fire. it has a demonstratable impact on the severity of the fire and in many cases the fire doesn't even penetrate those areas that have been managed. it is not a guarantee but we can do the fuel reduction work and prescribed firework to take away the fuel the fire needs to pass through that forest. so i'm wholly support of the pilot project. i think restoration is one of the critical steps that we must
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take. >> i mine, it's hard to categorize but they're coming up with a pretty big number. they're saying you could have as big as a auto50% reduction in t fire by doing the right treatment s that something that you think is -- >> i think it's certainly a possibility. i think the language in the discussion draft is an opportunity for us to test that. that model. i think absolutely having been a forrester for 30 years now that active engagement and forest management, we have several examples in the sierra where thinning kept the fire lower intensity. early are i failed to show ai slide. but you may have trouble seeing it there. but a picture tells 1,000 words. this is the central sierra a
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year ago and just this spring. and what you're seeing is little tree mortality and all of a sudden, entire mixed ponderosa pines are completely decimated. not by fire, by insect mortality. and so forest managemchlts ent, thinning this pilot project have us looking at active forest management for forest health which stops epidemic insect deaths. absolutely engaging in forest manage asment and a pilot prom would be great. >> thank you. we've gone over the time that i had promised we would be a adjourning the panel. i do have a question for mr. nichols. and this relates to the attack recommendations relating to the inventory. you served on the tongas advisory committee. i'm going to rely on you for a
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little background on how the transition and the inventory really came together within the discussion. in my questioning to mr. bonnie sh i made clear about the inventory being the number one priority. and he seems to suggest and actually he did state that the forest service will have all the data that it needs to guarantee the success apparently of a young growth transition by the end of this summer's survey on prince of wales. and indicated that there can thb parallel track, if you will, that the inventory has begun. we appreciate that. but that it can go alongside the
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forest plan amendment process. can you please speak to why it was important that group recommend a comprehensive stand level inventory? also, further to the point, has anything changed since january 21 when that statement was pretty conclusively made that remains the number one priority? and then is it possible that the forest service has all they need -- will have all that it needs in terms of an inventory when it completes the are review this summer? >> you know, i spent 18 months from attack. so it's a lifetime to me. but basically, there are two pieces to that. the first piece is we knew there was going to be fall down acres. you look at the growth stands, they lose 60% of the stand acres. so we knew we would have some in the young growth. we spent time in the field with
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the fish biologists. she showed the streams that were log through in the beginning that will have to be protected. so we knew in our models we could not get an answer from the forest service on what's going to fall down to use. so in the modelling we did, we did no falldown. so we use the acres the forest service has. that was the first point. the conservation community was pushing hard for absolute dates on ending old growth. we couldn't give it to them. we did not have the information because one of the things that we agreed to in this pact was for every acre of young growth we would stop harvest an acre of old growth. it was for every acre of young growth did you not get, will you to do more old growth. so there was, for the first time, there was kind of a leverage there on both sides of the attacks. so the tack when bonnie came, the tack knew we had to have better inventory.
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it just was not. there a tended a meeting here last week. the forest service has 50,000 acres of information on 250,000 acres. the land is highly variable. they will tell you it is highly variable. they don't have enough information. the tack position is we needed that to because we had to make final decisions on when to stop the old growth harvest. we just couldn't do. that we just did not have enough information to make that decision. the acres left in this amendment are so low that if we lose part of those acres to this falldown or to the uneconomic ability, there will not be a timber industry. there is not enough acreage left of harvestable timber to maintain any kind of industry in southeast alaska. >> sto that's the reason why we have to get this inventory correct. >> you only have one time. we can't undo it. as you have seen and all the
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legislation, it never gets undone. so if we make a mistake now, there will be no timber industry. the communities in southeast alaska will suffer greatly because of it. >> so the tack continues to recommend a comprehensive inventory. that hasn't changed? >> that hasn't changed a bit. >> and as far as this parallel track that's been suggested that we can move forward with the forest plan amendment process, while at the same time conducting an inventory, does that work or not work? >> from the industry side, what i see throughout today is the tack made some very strong recommendations. then we took part of the recommendations. they did not take them all. the timber they're working on today do not follow the tack recommendations. there is going to be a down fall in the amount of young growth available as they don't
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intentionally -- intensively harvest the stands. so what we see since the tack recommend togs day is that the forest service is still not implemented the on the ground recommendation that's we made. and those are difficult recommendations. and that's what's going to determine whether this thing will work or not. but right now, we do not see where there is a will to get the recommendations in place. >> well, we're going to continue to push to make sure that we have a firm understanding. it's been suggest ed that somehw or other my motivation is to delay the forest plan amendment delay of indefinitely. my intention is not to delate plan. my intention is to make sure that plan is based on the true facts on the ground. a true honest understanding as to what our inventory is that will allow us to base the decision on good grounded
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science that will allow us to get it right because of these -- as you suggested, we've got one opportunity to get it right. i know that it's not easy. i know that it has been difficult. but i appreciate the good work. i also appreciate you recognizing that nakt all of the recommendations from the tack were not put into play. thank you for helping to advance the very important issues. with that, ladies and gentlemen, i appreciate the extra time that you have given us and the committee as well. as we continue to work to refine this draft proposal, we would certainly welcome and encourage your continued input if members have questions for the records, we'll make sure we get them out to you quickly. but, again, thank you for being
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here. the committee stands adjourned.
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tonight, texas republican congressman will herd, chair of the house information technology subcommittee talks about sib eastern data security and federal government agencies and the report card the subcommittee released in may on agencies management of information. he is joined by cybersecurity reporter tim starks. >> the federal government has almost 11,000 data centers. facebook, one of the biggest companies in the world, has four. there is no reason that federal government should have 11,000. and you can real yi the savings. we raili izrealize that four agencies realized $2 billion of saving officials the last two years by moving into the cloud. >> watch "the communicators" tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2.
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>> i am pleased that the senate of the body has come to this conclusion. television and the senate will undoubtedly provide citizens with greater access and exposure to the actions of this body. this access will help all americans to be better informed of the problems and the issues which face this nation on a day by day basis. >> during the election, i had the occasion of meeting a woman who had supported me in my campaign. and she decided to come to shake my hand and take a photograph. a wonderful woman. she wasn't asking for anything. and i was very grateful she took the time to come by. it was an unexceptional moment except for the moment she was born in 1894. and her name was margaret lewis,
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a woman born in louisiana. born in the shadow of slavery, born in a time when lynchings were commonplace, born in a time when a time when african-americans and women could not vote. >> took our country from the time of its founding until the mid-1980s to build up a national debt of $850 billion which was the size of this so-called stimulus package when it came over here. so we're talking about real borrowed money. >> 30 years of coverage of the u.s. senate on c-span2. now a hearing on russia's impact on peace and security in europe from the senate foreign relations committee. this is about hours, ten minutes.
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>> foreign relations committee will come to order. we thank our witnesses for being here and look forward to their testimony. we're obviously here today to talk about russia and its role in the world. together our countries have conquered the nazis, prevented the proliferation of nuclear weapons and worked against terrorists in the years after 9/11. yet, for most of modern history, americans and russians found themselves at cross purposes throughout the cold war, we trained to obliterate each other. with the fall of the berlin wall, many politicians argued that the difficult dafz confrontation were behind us. leaders like gov chof and yeltsin worked to place russia on a path towards democracy and engagement with the rest of the world. reagan asked for the walls to be torn down. george w. bush had putin come to his home in texas and obama sought to reset the relationship in a way that prioritized
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communication and cooperation. scholars will long argue exactly when the u.s./russia relationship again became confrontational. looking back the russia, georgia war in august of 2008 seems to be the mark of the beginning of a new age. since that summer, a so-called resurgent russia pushed back on the institutions and allies of the west. russia has invaded georgia and ukraine, striking them in ways designed to prevent their integration into the european union and the north atlantic treaty alliance. russia has acted contrary to the immediate range nuclear forces treaty, the new strategic arms reduction treaty, the open skies treaty and the sea agreement. russia has altered the human rights landscape within its country decreasing democracy and begging questions about the future of governance not just in moscow but across the
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federation. russia joined the civil war in syria and militarize the arctic. now we talking about u.s./russia relationship the ways we interact globally, the days following the end of the cold war seem very far away as the relationship is once again grown distrustful and confrontational. as we meet to talk about the role russia has come to play in the last several years, we must address these topics through therence of realism. it would be easy to cat lower the events that brought us here today. we are charged with a responsibility to diagnose the problem but to begin generating prescriptions where we go next. discussion of the violation of norms must be paired with conversations of ways of setting boundaries and engaging with russia. in order to make our world more stable and ultimately to serve u.s. national interests. our countries are too powerful
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and the interplay between us too important to resign ourselves to the increasing risk of confrontation and escalation. i look forward to hearing today how we can recognize the new realities of the u.s./russian relationship and implement a new strategy that puts us on a better trajectory. i'll turn to our distinguished ranking member senator cardin. >> let me thank you for calling this hearing. let me concur in all of your comments in your opening statement. i totally agree with the points that you raised and the challenges we have in regards to our relationship with russia. today, we meet to discuss russia's efforts to undermine institutions that have maintained peace and security in europe since the end of the cold war. russia's actions in georgia in 2008 support for separationist enclaves in georgia and moldova, invasion of ukraine, illegal annexation of crimea and the ongoing support for the combined
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russian separationist forces in eastern u craik having challenged the security of sovereign borders something that has been a mainstream of relations in europe since the signing of the hell cinch can i accord in '75. we very serious concerns about russia's compliance with arm treaties. they comply with new start, but it is in violation of others like the inf and there are compliance issues with open skies treaties. i look forward to hear how we can strengthen our ability to verify and enforce their terms. there are questions about the val you've such accords as russia wantonly disregards its international commitments. this should not lead us to the conclusion that all arms control agreements should be ripped up. while not perfect, these agreements afford us some visibility into russia's intentions. i also want to underscore the importance of these treaties to our allies especially open
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skies. as we seek to bolster european unity in the face of russian aggression, pulling out of open skies would send the wrong message to our friends. what is often lost in the debate about russia's negative behavior abroad is how it treats its own people at home. last year's murder of boris nut shall just steps from the kremlin is the most sobering example of the danger facing the opposition. today we are honored to be joined by vladimir kara-murza, a prominent member of the political opposition who was poisoned in moscow under suspicious circumstances and spent months in a coma. vladimir, thank you for your courage and all that you do for the people of the russian federation. new laws targeting foreign agents and undesirable organizations which label ngos as traitors of the russian state impeded the work of ndi, osf and the mcarthur foundation. putin has fueled corruption by
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weakening the rule of law and his associates know that their fortunes depend on access and allegiance to the regime. and those who make public these corrupt acts are threatened, abused or even worse. sergeiny mit ski was one of them and he paid the ultimate price for his honesty. as everyone here knows the law targets human rights abusers inside russia. while 40 people have been sanctioned since 2012, i call on the administration to hold accountable more human rights abusers in the country as human rights violations increase, so should our response. in summary, russia under putin is a regime intent on undermining democracy at home and abroad. yes, we have shared interests with the russian regime and we need to pursue them, but we could never forget our principles and turn a blind eye to human rights violations committed by the putin regime. mr. chairman, again, thank you for convening this hearing.
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> thank you very much. we do appreciate our witnesses being here. i don't think we've had as many people on the outside of the building trying to go the in so it's obviously something people care about, and we thank victoria nuland, assistant secretary of state for the bureau of european and you're asian affairs for being here. he we look forward to your testimony. and dr. michael carpenter, you all have been here before. you know you can summarize in about five minutes. we've read your written testimony in many advance and we look forward to the questions that follow. if you'd start, victoria, it would be great. >> thank you, chairman corker. ranking member cardin, members of this committee for the opportunity to join you and discuss the challenges that posed to international peace and security by russia today. and the administration's policy towards moscow. as you all know, for more than 20 years follow package the collapse of the soviet union, the united states has sought to
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build a constructive relationship with russia and to support that country's greater integration into regional and global institutions and the rules-based international order. our working assumption in doing this was that a more integrated democratic, secure and prosperous russia would be a safer, more predictable and willing partner for the united states and our allies. bill 2014, however, we had no choice but to re-evaluate our assumptions following russia's invasion of sovereign ukrainian territory, first in crimea and then in eastern ukraine which shattered any remaining illusions about this kremlin's willingness to abide by international law or live by the rules of the institutions that russia joined at the end of the cold war. our approach to russia today seeks first to deter further aggression through the projection of strength and unity with our allies, second to build
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resilience and reduce vulnerability among friends and allies that are facing russian pressure and coercion. third, to cooperate on core security priorities when our interests and russia's do align. and fourth, to sustain ties to the russian people to preserve the potential for a more constructive relationship in the future. let me go through these. first strengthen deterrence. to counter the threat posed by russian aggression and deter military moves against nato territory, over the past two years, the united states and our nato allies have maintained a persistent rotational military presence on land, sea, and air all along nato's eastern edge, the baltic states, poland, romania bulgaria. as we look toward the summit in warsaw this coming july, allies will institutionalize a more sustained approach to deterrence including by enhancing presence in the east to reduce response times to any aggression.
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to support this commitment, the president has requested $3.4 billion to fund the european reassurance initiative. with your support, these funds will be used to deploy an additional rotational armored brigade combat team to central and eastern europe and prepositioning of combat equipment as well as additional trainers and exercises in europe. to press moscow to bring an end to the violences in ukraine and fully implement its commitments under the minsk agreements we have worked with the eu, g-7 and other like minded nations to impose successive rounds of tough economic sanctions on russia over the past two years. and we're now working intensively with europe to ensure that will eu sanctions are rolled over at the end of this month and to support france and germany in their lead diplomatic role to push for the full implementation of the minsk agreements including with the draw of all russian forces from
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ukraine and the return of ukraine's sovereign border. next, resilience of partners. even as we defend nato territory, we're also working to reduce the vulnerabilities and increase the resilience of those countries across europe that face pressure from moscow. to help ukraine, the united states has committed over $600 million in security assistance. we've trained 1700 ukrainian conventional forces and national guard personnel. we've provided counter artillery and counter mortar ray darz, over 3,000 secure radios and equipment to help ukrainian troops resist further advances and to save lives. to continue our work across europe and you're asia to strengthen democratic institutions reform economies, fight corruption and build the resilience of our partners we have requested $787 million in fy 17 focusing on our priorities
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on those countries that are most vulnerable to russian pressure. our programs and advisors focus on improving governance, squeezing out graft and fraud, strengthening justice systems, improving election around, hardening border security and homeland defenses and building energy independence to make countries more resilient and strongner the face of pressure. we're also deepening intelligence cooperation across europe and you're asia to detect and blunt russia's covert and overt efforts toe manipulate the internal politics of european countries. even as we push back against russian aggression and support neighbors that are under pressure, the united states will continue to look for areas where our interests and moscow's align. we've worked with russia, for example to, remove syria's declared chemical weapons to, prevent iran from acquiring nuclear weapons to, contain the nuclear threat emanating from the dprk and negotiate and
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implement the new s.t.a.r.t. treaty. as you all know over the past eight months, secretary kerry has led multilateral efforts to try to resolve the crisis in syria, establishing the international syria support group and forging a critical agreement on a cessation of hostilities which has reduced violence even as that agreement is tested every single day. these efforts have all required hard headed diplomacy with russia and we continue to call on the kremlin to bring its influence to bear on the as saud regime to prevent civilian casualties and top end barrel bombing and the regime's obstruction of humanitarian aid deliveries to the besieged communities. finally, we must continue to engage directly with those russian individuals, businesses and organizations who want to work with us who share our interests and values and who are working for a bet future for their country. despite moscow's crackdown on
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civil society and free press, our exchange programs and our scientific cooperation remain hugely popular with the russian people. we will also continue to speak out against laws and policies that impede the work of russian civil society and contravene the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association in russia and elsewhere in the region. the approach that i've just outlined is not without challenges and contradictions. i will not claim that it is yet brought an end to russian aggression in ukraine or moscow's unmitigated support for the as saud regime or its violations of treaties and global intoes. i am convinced that u.s. and allied unity regarding russia over the last two years has been essential to deterring even worse behavior to protecting our own security anton bringing the kremlin to the table on critical issues from ukraine to iran top syria. thank you very much for your attention. i turn to dr. carpenter.
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>> thank you. dr. carpenter. >> chairman corker, ranking member cardin, members of the committee, i appreciate this opportunity to update you on the department of defense's strong and balanced approach to deterring russian aggression defending the home linda in our treaty allies and strengthening the resilience of our allies and partners to russian coercion intimidation. russia's interventions in georgia in 2008 and ukraine in 2014 have demonstrated a blatant disregard for its international commitments including the most basic principles of the international order including sovereignty, territorial integrity and the invalability of boarders. in syria russia enter have vened militarily to prop up a murderous dictator aligning itself with lebanese hezbollah. russia's nuclear saber rattling raises questions about russian leaders commitments to strategic stability and norms against the threat of use of nuclear weapons. with regards to arms control
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commitments, russia's record has been mixed. it has violated those agreements that pose impediments to its military modernization plans such as the conventional forces in europe treaty or intermediate range nuclear forces treaty. it has honored the you? s.t.a.r.t. treaty limits strategic nuclear weapons toes lift cal low levels. >> thanks to a robust military modernization program, russia seeks to be a qualitative peer to the united states across the land, sea and air and space domains in addition to in in cyberspace and across the electromagnetic spectrum. our approach to accounter is russian aggression involves strengthening our capabilities, posture, investments plans. we aim to do this without foreclosing the possibility of working with russia. the most critical element is
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insuring effective deterrence, defense loam land reflected in the president's fiscal years 2017 budget requests. we are modernizing our nuclear forces. this program includes a new long range strategic bomber, ballistic missile submarine and air launch cruise missile as well as life extension program for the b-61 gravity bomb. we are also moving forward the development of new technologies to ensure we maintain a qualitative military edge over potential high tend adversaries. these include new unmanned systems enhanced ground and air base missile defense, new anti-ship weapons and electromag tick rail gun, lasers and new systems for electronic warfare space and cyberspace. we will continue to strengthen our alliances and partnerships. i thank congress as secretary
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new land mentioned, eri has enabled the department of defense to strengthen our assurance missions in europe. the president's fiscal year 2017 budget proposes quad ruping funding to er to more than $3.4 billion which allows us to increase our force posture in europe by augmenting two permanent little stationed brigade combat teams with an additional armored bct as well as a fourth bct prepositioned war fighting equipment. with our non-nato partners, our goal is to improve their capacity to dealith conventional and unconventional threats. we have provided over $600 million to enhance security since the start of the crisis. our support consisted of training programs to enhance ukraine kaes defense capabilities, equipment and advisors to advance the implementation of key defense
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reforms. so far, we have trained 6 companies from ukraine's national guard and five land forces battalionons or rather in the process and one special operations battalion. while the scale of our assistance to ukraine is unique, we are engageded in similar capacity building efforts with other non-nato partners such as georgia and mull dole va. as sect carter has scored, the department's policy zillions predicated on an approach both strong and balanced leaving the door to russia to return to come palestine with international norms and to constructive engagement with the international community. in concert with our allies and partners, we will continue countering russian aggression with a posture that is defensive and proportional. in spite of russia's actions we will continue to advance our strategic vision of a europe whole free and at peace. i look forward to your questions. >> he thank you very much. we have votes at 4:00.
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i've after asked birdie to put put five minutes on the clock. i'm going to ask one question and move on to ben. secretary new land, we met briefly prior to this hearing. there's a narrative out there that it the u.s. and nato pressured russia by expanding to areas obviously adjacent to their border and that is what has generated some of the discord, if you will, that exists between our countries. you were involved in those negotiations extensively. i wonder if you could give us a brief summary of your view of that. >> thank you, senator. i completely reject this narrative of grievance that it is somehow our fault. as know, tate nato is a defensive alliance as we said to russia at every stage. we are not a threat to russia in any way. through the various expansions of nato we saw the also to
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deepen nato's own relationship with russia, first through the creation of the permanent joint council and then the nato russia council. i was as you said active in those efforts both in negotiating and ambassador to nato to implement knows agreements. i think russia did not take advantage of the opportunity that nato put before it for cooperation. we could have gotten to a place with a different attitude in the kremlin where much of the affirmative security that we were seeking in europe and seeking against terrorists and with regard to dangerous iranian behavior could have been done jointly in that structure but we could never get there because of old efforts. also,s in aught years we reached out to russia quite strongly to try to work together on missile defense programs to try to cooperate and the kremlin was never willing or able to take us up on those opportunities. so i regret very much that we are where we are, but i really
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do think that we will tried very hard on the u.s. side across three administrations of both parties to reach out and we will continue to try to do that, as i said. >> thank you. i'm going to reserve the rest of my time and turn to the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. to defend ourselves from russia's behavior and aggression, it would be nice to know why they're doing wa they're doing. since 2008, they've used their military in an aggressive way to violate the sovereignty of other countries. so could you just share with me your thoughts as to what russia's game is here? are they trying to get a greater russia, to take on more territory under the umbrella of russia -- are they trying to re-create the soviet union? what is their game plan here? >> senator cardin, i would say as a u.s. official it, i don't think it's particularly productive to try to speak for russia. i would highlight some of the things russia's president
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himself has said. i'd point to his speech at the mub nick security conference in 2007 where he very much regretted the loss of control over soviet space, the loss of control over the failure, the end of the soviet union, et cetera. so clearly that's something on his mind. but i would defer that question to russians, frankly. >> let me -- it's not safe to be in the political opposition these days in russia. what is the administration doing to help political pluralism in russia in regards to those who are opposing the putin regime? >> i assume that's for me, senator? >> either one. i'm open to a good answer. >> well, obviously, we continue to speak out strongly whenever russia takes moves to further constrain the space for the nongovernmental organizations to restrict human rights as i said in my opening to constrain press
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freedom. we've worked with vladimir and others who are seeking a different future for russia. we have programs both inside russia and outside russia to work with those russian activists who want to work with us to try to strengthen rule of law, to try to strengthen a free press. we have a large number of russian journalists who have actually fled russia now who are working with us and with others in europe to try to ensure there is independent russian lang news going back into the country. we also work on lgbt rights and other things inside russia with those who want to work with us. >> i'll follow up with some questions for record in regards to this. let me move to the arctic. climate change is change cag the arctic. with the ice melts, russia has 4,000 miles of arctic coastline. it's my understanding they have established six new bases in the
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north of the arctic circle. and they have deployed certain weapons systems there. what are we doing to respond to russia's militaritirization of the arctic? >>. >> well, you're absolutely right, ranking member cardin that, russia has invested significantly in capabilities in the arctic over the last several years including trying to create infrastructure in places and other parts of the russian arctic. we seek to preserve the arctic as a space for cooperation on scientific issues as we have with russia in the past working on things like black carb be and the danger it poses to the arctic environment as well as other issues. however, we take very seriously russia's advancing cape thes in the arctic including the possibility that overtime russia will be able to create if the arctic elements of area aca 2 ad
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bubbles, if you will that will preclude over nations from being able to enjoy their freedom of navigation in parts of the arctic. so we are investing and the president's fiscal year 2017 budget invests in the types of capabilities that will allow us to augment our force posture in the arctic and also develop the sorts of capabilities that will help us to ensure freedom of navigation and freedom of flight for our troops in that region. >> and i take it we're working with other arctic partnerses to try to minimize the potential here of conflict, but it does seem like russia is invest agawful lot in territorial claims in the arctic. >>. >> well, senator, we do have a good working relationship with russia in the arctic council where we try to preserve as i said, those areas of cooperation
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that are on going including environmental cooperation, but also importantly our coast guard has a search and rescue agreement with its russian counterpart that has worked very successfully over the years. so we seek to preserve these areas of cooperation but at the same time, develop our own military capabilities so we are not caught off guard and so that we are keeping track with the types of investments that russia is making. > i'm going to be respectful of the carom's five-minute clock and asking other questions for the record including russia's aggressiveness in revising history and using its communications to try to change the narrative of what is reality and how we are trying to counter that propaganda can have a pretty strong impact and part of our strategies must to be make sure people understand what is -- what are the facts and we welcome your response for the record in regards to those
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issues. thank you. >> senator perdue. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know with the debt crisis we've got and the popularity of your hearings, we might start charging tickets here. in all seriousness, i really thank you for this and i hope we'll have many more about this like russia and china. the rise of these traditional rivals are really concerning to people back home. russia, dr. carpenter, i've got a second follow-up on the hybrid warfare. i want to talk about georgia for a minute. i want to know what lessons we think we learned after eight years. the russians have had a history of creating these frozen conflicts where without a peace treaty, everything seems to be going in the normal. yet i know next year in one of their regions, i think it's shah valley, they're rumored to be having a referendum about joining russia again. so i mean, this is a pressure that russia keeps put ong there. i'm very concerned, james clapper, director dni, national
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intelligence testified that the nation of georgia despite all its progress in western refors is at increasing risk from russian aggression and pressure. i visited serbia last year and met the georgian defense minister and heard her concerns about the on going pressure and so forth in georgia. what lessons have we learned in terms of standing up? i know that the georgia national georgia and the u.s. national guard has just had a forward deployment there. i'd like to get some feedback on that. also, what are we doing now from a dod standpoint to put pressure on russia relative to georgia and what lessons under sect or new land, what have we learn there had relative to crimea and the ukraine? >> well, thank you senator. i completely agree with your assessment that russia is
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continuing to place pressure on georgia through a variety of different means. russia currently occupies about 20% of georgian territory. >> a third of the population, right? >> it's a significant portion of the population. and those administrative boundary lines that russia maintains continue to shift especially in the south settia region claiming ever more pieces increments of georgian territory. russia is putting pressure on georgia in a variety of other ways including this proclaimed desire by the defact taupe leader of south la settia to have an ultimatum on integration with russia. our goal since 2008 has been to build russia's rilience and reduce its vulnerabilities to russian coercion. we've spent about $480 million on security assistance in georgia since the crisis. just recently two weeks ago, i was in tbilisi to participate in
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the noble partner exercise that we conduct georgia where we had about 650 u.s. troops alongside about 500 georgian troops and about 150 uk troops where we had airborne jumps into georgia and we had abrams thanks as well as bradley infantry fighting vehicles on the ground, helping them to develop their self-defense capabilities. over the course of the last ten years, georgia has contributed mightily to our nato efforts overseas including especially in afghanistan where up till recently, they have been the second largest troop clinter after the united states with 850 troops and in fact, they have suffered about 32 casualties if i'm not mistaken, about 282 wounded. they have had major sacrifices there and a lot of the our training program over the course of the last decade has been focused on preparing georgian troops for these overseas is
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deployments including iraq and later afghanistan. now, we are starting to position ourselves to devote more attention to training up georgia's troops for their self-defense capabilities. >> do we have permanent troops on the ground in georgia? >> we don't plan to have permanent troops on grounds but we do plan to increase the tempo of our exercises and trainings with georgia. >> what lessons have we learned relative to georgia as it relates to crimea and the ukraine? >> senator, i think the first one is the one that dr. carpenter highlighted which is we in our security partnership with georgia spent a lot of the last decade helping georgian forces prepare for expeditionary deployments to afghanistan, et cetera and probably not enough focus on strengthening georgia's own homeland security which is what we're trying to correct and not just as in u.s./georgia relation buzz also in nato georgia relations. the o'er lesson is the abiden
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one which has significant applicant for ukraine. the best antidote to russia pressure is an increasingly european democratic georgia or ukraine and to take maximum advantage of the association agreements that both of these countries have with europe. so that's why all of the programs that we manage from the state department are designed to squeeze out corruption, improve justice systems, et cetera. >> with due respect and i have all the respect in the world for you, assistant secretary, i'm sorry i'm over time. i walk away, i've been over there quite a bit. i walk away with the feeling that when we deal with russian ukraine we deal with russia and georgia. it sounds like it's their fault. it's ukraine. it's crimea. it's georgia's fault because they aren't quite as western as we want them to be. therefore we haven't been able to do everything to help them. i know we've got westernization
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issues in georgia. we've got an invasion that occurred. and sovereignty territory being possessioned in violation of a 1972 agreement with russia. we're talking about all this other stuff at the same level of the invasion issue. i'm sorry to take issue with that but i really think. >> no question, we cannot blame the victim. we have to strengthen these countries so that they can resist economically, politically and security terms. >> sorry, thank you. >> soon coons. >> assistant secretary new land, i had an opportunity to meet with the russian ambassador to the united nations earlier this year. you mentioned the difficult balance between cooperating the russians on a number of important areas, some of our bilateral treaties containing iran's aggressive nuclear weapons program and other areas where we have strongly discordant interests and working to strengthen our allies whether this baltics or ukraine ornate toe in the fac


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