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California taxpayers subsidize the logging industry to the tune of $18 million a year, according to testimony at an Assembly hearing Tuesday.
The key question before the Accountability and Administrative Review Committee was whether any of that subsidy is justified.
Owners of the state’s 8.7 million acres of private forestland argue they provide public benefits including wildlife habitat, clean air and carbon sequestration – not to mention about 22,000 jobs.
Environmental groups counter that logging causes habitat loss and water pollution and that the industry should cover all of the state’s cost to police those problems.
Data provided by the Legislative Analyst’s Office show that regulating logging on private land costs state government $18.8 million a year. That includes processing timber harvest plans, inspecting logging areas before and after harvest, and protecting downstream areas from erosion that harms salmon habitat.
The industry pays state agencies about $550,000 a year in permitting fees.