Disregarding opposition in both houses of Congress, President Bush announced a plan yesterday to expedite the cutting of trees and brush in national forests by streamlining environmental reviews and judicial oversight. Bush says the plan will help reduce fire danger, but critics say last summer’s wildfires merely provided the pretext for permitting more logging on public lands, including commercially valuable old-growth trees. The proposed plan would reduce the ability of opponents to delay logging projects and would decrease the amount of environmental impact information needed to approve clear-cutting projects — in some cases, from 200 pages to as little as one page. Environmentalists strongly criticized the plan as another example of Bush sacrificing the environment as a favor to industries that are major Republican donors. The plan, which applies to 10 national forests, will take effect after a 30-day public comment period.

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