Bill Clinton, as part of his legacy, passed a bill that protected 58.5 million acres of pristine national forest land from future development. Today, George We-hate-trees Bush is taking a blow torch to Bill’s Roadless Forest bill. By allowing Left-coast governors the choice whether to bulldoze more trees, our Favorite Shrubbery is washing his hands of the consequences - both real-world and political. Also, as corporate money is tossed into the fire, less money will go farther when applied as leverage on the State level. Think of this as a localized Ad campaign, where the money is targeted more efficiently. Clever, that. Any political ashfall will likely only affect local and not national seats, so the Red party can stay in power in 2006.
Don’t let anyone tell you these people are dumb.
From LA Times:
The administration is replacing the road ban started by President Clinton with a regulation that gives governors considerable influence over the fate of federal backcountry, most of which is in the West and Alaska.
The administration has been signaling its displeasure with the roadless rule for several years, and late last year proposed the policy that was formally announced Thursday.
States will have 18 months to petition the federal government to open the lands to roads and development or to keep them protected. The final decision will be up to the secretary of Agriculture.
The road ban, considered the most sweeping conservation move of the Clinton administration, set off a round of lawsuits still playing out in courts. Some Western governors and the timber industry condemned the prohibition, saying it had carved a huge wilderness area out of public lands that should be open to a variety of uses.
In announcing the new rule, which will take effect in a few days, administration officials said they hoped it would resolve conflicts by giving states a voice.
From the Philadelphia Enquirer:
The new rule gives governors of pro-development Western states greater say over forest management in their states. Environmental groups fear that will lead to development that threatens fish and wildlife in pristine areas.
Because of market forces, the first intrusions into the forests will probably be by natural-gas-drilling rigs rather than chain saws and timber mills, according to economists, forest scientists and industry officials.
Either way, change is likely to come, if slowly, to some of the 58.5 million acres that the Clinton administration in its waning days put off-limits to development. The new state-by-state rules will affect no more than 34.3 million acres because the 24.2 million other acres have other development bans that are not being lifted, Bush administration officials said.
Finally, Grist Magazine says:
The Bush administration last week gave the heave-ho to the sweeping Clinton administration roadless rule, which put some 58.5 million acres of national forests off-limits to development. In its place, a new rule will put 34.3 million acres of that land back into play, at the discretion of governors, who will have 18 months to petition the feds either to open national-forest land in their states to development or keep it protected. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey claimed that “the way [the Clinton rule] was done developed a substantial amount of ill will.” As more than 90 percent of the public comments on the Clinton rule were positive, while more than 95 percent (nearly 1.8 million) on the Bush rule were negative, said “ill will” likely came primarily from the oil, gas, logging, mining, and road-building industries. Said a spokesflack for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, “We have to find ways and work with local communities to evaluate these lands and see if they are best for oil and gas activities, recreation, whatever.” Whatever, please.