Repub­li­cans Use Wild­fires to Cover En­vi­ron­men­tal Sneak At­tack

Trillions - - In this Issue -

As run­away cli­mate change re­ally starts to kick-in, the num­ber and sever­ity of wild­fires is in­creas­ing and so are the costs to fight those fires.

In the United States, the For­est Ser­vice and the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior must pay the cost of fight­ing wild­fires on fed­eral lands from their own bud­gets and those bud­gets are no longer enough, es­pe­cially when some Repub­li­cans want to slash the al­ready low bud­gets.

In­stead of ad­dress­ing the cause of wild­fires or in­creas­ing the bud­get of the For­est Ser­vice, a com­mit­tee led by Sen­a­tors John Bar­rasso of Wy­oming and Orin Hatch of Utah, pro­posed the sneaky Wild­fire Pre­ven­tion and Mit­i­ga­tion Act of 2017 last month, not to pre­vent or mit­i­gate wild­fires but to:

To dis­cour­age lit­i­ga­tion against the For­est Ser­vice and the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment re­lat­ing to land man­age­ment projects, to re­quire the Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior to de­velop a cat­e­gor­i­cal ex­clu­sion for cov­ered veg­e­ta­tive man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties car­ried

out to es­tab­lish or im­prove habi­tat for greater sage­grouse and mule deer, to ad­dress the for­est health cri­sis on National For­est Sys­tem land, to ex­pe­dite and pri­or­i­tize for­est man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties to achieve ecosys­tem restora­tion ob­jec­tives, and for other pur­poses.

It is true that for­est man­age­ment prac­tices need to be greatly im­proved and up­dated to ad­dress the chal­lenges of cli­mate change. They also need to bal­ance the needs of var­i­ous species and pro­tect those which need pro­tec­tion. But this bill does not ac­tu­ally do that. It is re­ally about fur­ther erod­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions and pre­vent­ing le­gal ac­tion to force the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to obey its own rules and laws in­tended to safe­guard pub­lic lands. The word "cli­mate" is not even men­tioned in the bill.

State Foresters have been tes­ti­fy­ing in hear­ings on the bill and hope­fully they and in­de­pen­dent ex­perts can help shape the bill so that it ac­tu­ally does more good then harm.

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