November 8, 2005

Republican wants to help poor gather firewood

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican chairman of the House
Resources Committee on Tuesday proposed waiving fees on
collecting firewood in U.S. national forests as a way to help
"families cope with the high costs of home heating" this

Natural gas household heating costs in the U.S. Midwest
will soar by nearly 50 percent this winter while heating oil in
the Northeast will rise by 25 percent, according to government

"Rural American families who depend on firewood to heat
their homes will be hit just as hard as those who use oil and
natural gas," California Rep. Richard Pombo said in a press

Pombo proposed legislation waiving fees for the U.S. Forest
Service's Self Help Firewood Program, which he said charges
consumers about $10 to $15 to gather a stack of wood 4 feet
long, 4 feet wide and 8 feet high. The waiver would last one
year, with a cap of $1,000.

Last month, Pombo's committee approved a plan that would
end a ban on the sale of federal land to mining companies and
allow companies to buy land for $1,000 per acre. The plan,
which is part of a government-wide budget cutting package, was
criticized by Democrats as a giveaway to the industry.