The New York Times editorial page has a lucid take on the Bush admin’s new forest-management rules. Daily Grist summarized the basic news here, but the NYT digs a little deeper into the likely ramifications of the policy overhaul — and the Gray Lady doesn’t like what she sees:
The ostensible purpose of the change is to streamline a cumbersome management process and give individual forest managers more flexibility to respond to threats like wildfires and the increasing use of the forests by off-road vehicles. But the new rules would also eliminate vital environmental reviews, as mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, jettison wildlife protections that date to President Ronald Reagan, restrict public input, and replace detailed regulations, like those limiting clearcuts and protecting streams, with vague “results-based” goals. These are unacceptably high costs to pay for regulatory efficiency.
More broadly, the whole idea of giving local managers more flexibility defies history, however reasonable it appears on the surface. The main reason Congress enacted the National Forest Management Act in 1976 was that the public had lost confidence in the Forest Service, not only local foresters but also their bosses in Washington, who seemed mainly interested in harvesting timber no matter what the cost to the forest’s ecological health.
On the same day and same page, the NYT also connects the dots between excessive fuel use and terrorism:
The next time you consider the purchase of a family car that matches satisfying heft with infinitesimal mileage per gallon, you might want to think about where some of that gas money will ultimately be going. Part of the price of every extra gallon helps, albeit indirectly, to finance mosques and religious schools all over the world that spread a fanatical variant of Islam that sees legitimacy in terrorist attacks. This financing, amounting to billions of dollars a year, comes from the government and private charities of Saudi Arabia, a country that is now taking in roughly $80 billion a year from oil exports.