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mikeolichney

Wall Street Journal vs the Greens

3 posts in this topic

"saw this article in the Wall Street Journal Opinion Page. Tuesday, July 2,

2002

Greens Go Up in Smoke

Will sensible forest policies rise from the ashes?

Fires continue to roar through the West, aided by drought and allegedly in

some cases by arson. But as the damage stretches into a million acres and

billions of dollars, other culprits are coming in focus--especially the

high-powered environmental groups that have dominated U.S. forest policy for

at least a decade.

"The policies that are coming from the East Coast, that are coming from the

environmentalists, that say we don't need to log, we don't need to thin our

forests are absolutely ridiculous," Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull said

recently. "Nobody on the East Coast knows how to manage these fires and I

for one have had it."

Her frustration is shared by many Westerners, who have now seen far too

closely the consequences of environmentalist policy. If there's been any

benefit to these awful fires, it's the education they're providing to

suburban voters. Their anger is spilling over into this year's election

campaigns, and is causing the greens to deny their own handiwork. As

Colorado Governor Bill Owens told us recently regarding the need for more

forest management: "The debate is largely over."

What the fires have exposed is just how extreme even today's "mainstream"

environmental activists have become. Once upon a time the Sierra Club and

Wilderness Society were concerned with the wise human stewardship of natural

resources and wilderness. But in recent decades a view has taken hold among

these groups that often sees human beings as the scourge of pristine Mother

Earth.

This no-human philosophy lies behind the Big Green litigation and lobbying

that opposed the very thinning and road-building that would clean up forests

to protect them from fire. The result is that this fire year is now shaping

up as the worst on record: Some 2.7 million acres have already burned,

nearly three times the average acreage for this time of year.

All of this has put the leading environmental groups, accustomed to a free

media ride, on the defensive for the first time in decades. The Sierra

Club's Carl Pope has called any criticism a "disturbing display of cynical

politics," which is of course a way of changing the subject. Governor Hull,

by the way, is term limited and not running for re-election.

But for the most part, the Big Green groups have been retreating faster than

the Italian Africacorps. After these columns recently pointed out the "Fires

Are Good" headline on the National Wildlife Federation Web site, we went

back to the site for another look, but the words had ysteriously

disappeared. The Sierra Club, which used to praise the uses of fire, now has

a "guide" for homeowners to protect themselves from fire.

But none of this absolves the groups from their previous agitation. Only

last summer, for instance, residents of the Black Hills in South Dakota met

with the U.S. Forest Service to discuss protecting their homes from fire.

The contribution at the time from Brad Brademeyer, a local Sierra Club

official, was that "If [people]don't want to live with the forest or be with

the forest, then they should move."

Then there's the "science" the groups continue to ply on their Web sites to

justify opposition to forest management. The Sierra Club says that "the only

real environmental damage associated with forest fires comes from human

attempts to extinguish and prevent them." The Center for Biological

Diversity and the National Forest Protection Alliance inform us,

counter-intuitively to say the least, that logging is responsible for the

fires. And the National Wildlife Federation says that "In fact, many animals

and plants not only survive, but thrive, after fire." They don't manage to

explain how

thinning "destroys habitat," while burning it down in its entirety makes

animals "thrive."

Clinton-era Forest Chief Mike Dombeck recently sent us a letter objecting to

our editorial on this subject, but in the process he made our very point.

His letter said forest management would lead to "intensely managed

industrial forest plantations," as if this was the only alternative to

catastrophic fire. Mr. Dombeck spent his time at the Forest Service

insisting he was a moderate, but his letter shows otherwise.

Even worse are the continuing appeals and litigation. Environmental groups

swamp the Forest Service and other agencies with appeals and lawsuits each

year, in an attempt to block even modest cleanup efforts. Readers can visit

the Forest Service site <http://www.fs.fed.us/forests> to see for

themselves.

Last week, Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Natural Resources and Environment at

the Agriculture Department, requested that the Forest Service conduct a

detailed report of the environmental groups' role in big fires. It will look

not just at the legal appeals, but also at the money and time the Service

spends attempting to guard its plans from legal action in the first place.

Based on their track record, the people who should pay for that study are

the environmental groups that created the problem."

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I wonder how much it would cost to get the LA Times to run that piece? Millions upon millions no doubt.

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