23. December 2004 · Comments Off on Bush Sells Our Forests · Categories: Environment · Tags: , , ,

Just read an article in the Washington Post about the new rules issued by the Bush administration last Wednesday for managing the national forests –

New Rules Issued for National Forests
. The article states that this new set of rules creates the biggest change in forest-use policies in nearly three decades and effects all 192 million acres of the countries 155 national forests.

The central feature of these rules is that a bureaucratic planning process will be replaced by a more corporate management approach… Hmmm, well I guess people haven’t figured out yet, after all the recent corporate scandals and failures…

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Google Search = “corporate scandals”

…that the corporate approach isn’t always such a great thing. The other problem with the “corporate approach” is that it’s always profit driven, in fact we could say, in most cases, that it’s profit obsessed. So how can we expect them to care about anything else such as the health of our environment or ourselves? Take a deep breath right now. Go ahead and do it. Now ask yourself where that oxygen came from. It came from trees, not just the one in your back yard, but from enough trees to make a difference, from vast forests. Yeah, lets put that in the hands of corporate management.

Sally Collins, associate chief of the U.S. Forest Service says that the new rules give economic activity equal priority with preserving the ecological health of the forests in making management decisions and in potentially liberalizing caps on how much timber can be taken from a forest. Well, first of all, don’t assume that just because a person works for the U.S. Forest Service that person is in favor of preserving the environment. You may have noticed the Bush administration has been very busy making staff changes in government departments. Secondly, there is something seriously wrong with the idea of putting economic and environmental concerns on the same level. Economy is a made-made cycle that roughly operates in 10-year cycles, you can totally screw an economy up and in a few years recover it. Not the same with the environment where the cycle is more like a million years. If we screw up the environment there is no going back, in fact if we screw it up enough we can permanently screw up our own ability to lead healthy lives although I’m sure corporations would love to profit from selling oxygen tanks to people who would like to live. Don’t laugh – it’s not as far-fetched as you think. People 100 years ago would not have believed that corporations would be profiting by selling water to people in third world countries that have no other source despite the fact they have a natural abundance of water. Pollution really changes things.

Collins also said the administration sought to update the rules to address new challenges, such as invasive species and forest fires, and to give the public input on how to manage the forests rather than commenting on individual projects. Oh yeah, how can I forget the much applauded pseudo-science that Bush has ushered in, where established science is overturned by bullshit popularity science.

(remember that post about Lysenkoism?)

The idea that forests have to be thinned is a perfect example… ridiculous; unbelievable how people actually buy that crap.

Washington Post says Forest Service officials estimated the changes will cut its planning costs by 30 percent and will allow managers to finish what amount to zoning requirements for forest users in two to three years, instead of the nine or 10 years they sometimes take now.
Ah yes, the economic cycles are too short to be patient, just like the quarterly stock reports don’t allow corporations to make short term sacrifices for long term gains anymore. Day traders want their instant gratifications immediately. So this makes sense. Thank you Bush for putting the long-term environment in the hands of short-term profit seekers. I mean, really now, when it comes to the environment, what was so bad about a 10 year process?

The government will no longer require that its managers prepare an environmental impact analysis with each forest’s management plan, or use numerical counts to ensure there are “viable populations” of fish and wildlife. Of course… Why let things like pollution or extinction or any ill-effect for that matter get in the way of a short-sighted economic need? Hell, if this is the way things are going to be done, then why do I need to get a permit from my city to build my deck? Why should I let things like building and safety codes get in the way of building an addition to my house if I’m in a hurry?

Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the House Resources Committee who tried twice unsuccessfully to block the proposed rules, said “With Bush’s anti-environmental forest policy, you can’t blame him for trying to hide behind other news, but not even Scrooge would unveil these regulations,” Udall said. “These regulations, being offered two days before Christmas, cut the public out of the forest planning process, will inspire many more lawsuits and provide less protection for wildlife. It’s a radical overhaul of forest policy.” …No shit.

Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, called the new rules “a step in the right direction” that will allow forest managers to make “better, more informed and quicker decisions” about timber sales. “This will get the Forest Service caring about the land and caring about the people, instead of caring about the process and serving the bureaucracy,” said West, who represents lumber and paper companies as well as landowners in 13 western states… A word of wisdom from a representative of the lumber and paper industry… Perfect.

OK, I think I’m going to hurl now.