I’m always interested in how stories about “things we know about” are covered in the press- especially what we might call the “coastal press”.
I noticed in our Saturday Colorado Springs Gazette that there was an article “How Congress’formula for wildfires makes them worse” here
attributed to Evan Halper of “the Tribune Washington Bureau” but I think he works for the LA Times from DC. I was particularly interested because he said:
“Partisan feuds over climate change, clear-cutting and bedrock federal environmental policies are undermining efforts to confront the rapidly swelling fire money dilemma.” As we shall see below, this may be only half the real story.
But Congress can’t seem to figure out how, amid feuding about the science and economics of wildfires. Many Republicans are demanding that any solution involve intensifying the amount of logging on public land, allowing clear-cuts as large as 10- or 15-square miles in federal forests, and weakening the National Environmental Protection Act, the 1969 landmark law that drives much of federal conservation policy.
The rollbacks are nonstarters for Democrats, who brandish research findings that climate change is a major driver of the intensifying fires, not too little commercial logging. California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris last week sent Trump a letter as fires raged in Northern California imploring him to support fixing the Forest Service money problem in a stand-alone measure, and then deal with the broader disputes over forestry management separately.
Does anyone know where the “10-15 square mile clearcut” came from? It seems kind of silly as the efforts we have been talking about are more along the lines of thinning and shaded fuel breaks. But I’m sure legislation that I think of as silly is possible. Is anyone familiar enough with the legislation to weigh in on this?
Democrats and environmentalists say the House measure that McClintock and other Republicans favor to fix the Forest Service funding problem is less about fighting fires than creating a big giveaway for logging interests. “We don’t think completely eliminating environmental safeguards will solve the problem or make us safer,” said Megan Birzell, national forests campaign manager at the Wilderness Society. “We don’t need 10,000-acre clear cuts in the back country to solve this.”
So a person writing for the LA Times from DC has framed this as about “logging” versus suppression. As we have seen over the summer, it’s much more complicated than that especially since national policies affect areas that want fuel treatments but don’t have active forest product (“logging”) industries. Apparently (at least some) folks in the Senate agree with me.
The Halper piece was published in the Gazette here on October 21. While I was catching up, I saw Steve’s link in a comment here to an E&E News on Cantwell et al.’s Senate bill. Halper’s LA Times article was dated October 18. Can we infer that there are two efforts.. one in the House that has gotten bogged down in partisanship and one in the Senate that (apparently) hasn’t and has people working across the aisle? The real news is the bill that has a chance of going somewhere. IMHO. Kudos to E&E News for telling us that story.