Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, wants to get even with Easterners in Congress, who he says interfere in Western land issues, by pushing a bill that would demolish steel-mill cities in Indiana to replant forests that disappeared long ago.
Rep. Don Young, D-Alaska, introduced the bill as a swipe at Rep. Jim Jontz, D-Ind., who has been a leading advocate of halting timber cutting in old-growth forests in the Northwest to protect the spotted owl.Young sent out letters last week seeking co-sponsors to his bill. As of Wednesday evening, the only one he found was Hansen.
"Why should the folks out West be the only ones to have the fun of facing economic ruin at the hands of a few narrow-minded extremists?" Hansen said.
He added, "If this passes, the people in Indiana will have an opportunity to share the joy of unemployment, abuse of their rights as property owners and environmental harassment lawsuits (that) Westerners presently enjoy."
The bill would create 1.3 million acres of forests in heavily industrialized northwestern Indiana - which Hansen said might increase tourism there, although it would destroy many other jobs.
Young said that history shows the area was once virgin forest. "Today, instead of virgin forests and unbroken sod, this area is heavily industrialized." He said supporting reforestation could "win you big points with the national environmental lobby now in charge of public policy in the Congress, so get on the Green Bandwagon."
Hansen, in a more serious tone, also said, "People living in the East have no concept of what the impact is from these extremists' efforts.