WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled House Friday approved a bill to sharply increase logging in national forests — a measure the GOP said would create jobs in rural communities and help reduce wildfires that have devastated the West.
The bill also would add hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from new timber sales while reviving an industry that has shed tens of thousands of jobs in the past three decades.
Opponents called the bill a giveaway to the timber industry and said it would harm water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife and jeopardize recreation areas that have become a major source of jobs in national forests.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill, which was approved on a 244-173 vote. Seventeen Democrats joined 227 Republicans to back the bill. Just one Republican, Rep. Chris Gibson of New York, opposed the bill.
The Obama administration says the measure would jeopardize habitat for endangered species, increase lawsuits and limit the president's ability to create national monuments.
The bill as passed has little chance of approval in the Democratic-controlled Senate.