Former Fed Worker Gets Closed-door Deal

Landowner gets a closed-door deal

Feds’ closed-door deal could ease development
New Forest Service rules could let largest private owner convert land
The Bush administration is preparing to ease the way for the nation’s largest private landowner to convert hundreds of thousands of acres of mountain forestland to residential subdivisions.

The deal was struck behind closed doors between Mark E. Rey, the former timber lobbyist who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, and Plum Creek Timber Co., a former logging company turned real estate investment trust that is building homes. Plum Creek owns more than 8 million acres nationwide, including 1.2 million acres in the mountains of western Montana, where local officials were stunned and outraged at the deal.
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Mark E. Rey – Was Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, oversees the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service. In this position he is responsible for the management of 156 national forests, 19 national grasslands, and 15 land utilization projects on 191 million acres in 44 states. Sworn in by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman on October 2, 2001, he is another in the long line of Bush appointees with close ties to industry. .

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Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Projects
Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.

The Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
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U.S. Lifts Moratorium on New Solar Projects
Under increasing public pressure over its decision to temporarily halt all new solar development on public land, (James L. Caswell), the Bureau of Land Management, said Wednesday that it was lifting the freeze, barely a month after it was put into effect.

The bureau had announced on May 29 that it was no longer processing new applications to build solar power plants on land it oversees in six Western states after federal officials said they needed first to study the environmental effects of solar energy, a process that would take two years
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James L. Caswell – Director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management Before that Caswell spent 33 years in various positions with the Bureau of Land Management, Bonneville Power Administration, and the U.S. Forest Service. For 16 of those years, he served as forest supervisor on the Clearwater and Targhee National Forests. Caswell was also deputy forest supervisor at Boise National Forest, and acting deputy regional forester in Missoula, Montana.

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