Dossier

A publication providing succinct biographical sketches of environmental scientists, economists, "experts," and activists released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Environmental Scientist: James R. Lyons

James R. Lyons, President Clinton's Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, served as a professional staff member for the House Agriculture Committee before joining the Administration. Since he joined the administration, Lyons has been controversial to say the least: In early 1994, the Associated Press obtained a series of internal U.S. Forest Service memos that suggested the agency gave the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) veto power over at least a dozen timber sales. The memos, issued between November 4, 1993 and January 14, 1994, referred to some timber sales as "released by the NRDC" and to others as "not released by the NRDC." Assistant Secretary Lyons defended the memos saying "We'd rather work with those who are concerned about the sales to avoid challenges." In September 1995, was again a center of controversy. The U.S. Senate voted to strip Lyons of much of his job after he failed to comply with a court order lifting a three-year injunction on timber sales on federal lands in the Pacific Northwest. But stripping Lyons of much of his authority wasn't sufficient punishment for some timber industry groups. They asked a federal judge to throw Lyons in jail for contempt of court. Federal forest programs have been mired in controversy during much of the Clinton Administration. The Forest Service was widely criticized for its management policies that many blamed for the death of firefighters in Colorado in 1994 -- said to be one of the worst fire seasons since the early 1900s. The Forest Service was also criticized for footing the bill for Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy to attend the Super Bowl in 1994. Espy argued that the trip was necessary because the Forest Service's Smokey the Bear was to be honored in a public service announcement to be shown during the game. The public service announcement was a mere 30 seconds in length. Espy's tickets cost $900 -- $200 more than the face value of the tickets.

Selected James Lyons Quotes

The two sides of James Lyons...

"The wildfires affecting eastern Washington and other western states are symptomatic of the excessive fuels and poor condition of many forested areas in the region. " - James Lyons quoted in the Rocky Mountain News, September 23, 1994

"We agree there is clearly need for forest health. But in our view, this (bill) is not necessary to achieve forest health objectives. In fact, it may have just the opposite effect." - James Lyons commenting on a proposed bill to permit salvage logging of dead and dying trees, as quoted in The Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1995

James Lyons on why his department gave the Natural Resources Defense Council veto power over certain timber sales...

"We'd rather work with those who are concerned about the sales to avoid challenges.... clearly there is a misunderstanding about the process and what we are trying to achieve." - James Lyons quoted in the Anchorage Daily News, February 4, 1994



Version Date: March 19, 1996






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