Yelling Fire in a Crowded Political Theater
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, campaigning in the Northwest over the weekend, defended himself against accusations that his state is an environmental mess. He claimed that Texas’s air and water have become cleaner since he took office and that his administration has overseen the cleanup of more than 400 contaminated industrial sites. Bush said the negotiating table is the place to get polluters to clean up their acts, not the courtroom: “I don’t think you can litigate clean air and clean water. I don’t think you can legislate clean air and clean water.” He also pledged to increase logging levels on national forests in the Northwest, which have fallen markedly under the Clinton administration. Although Bush didn’t blame Clinton for the wild fires burning across the West, he said current land-management policies that restrict logging and thinning of underbrush have “made the forests much more dangerous to fire.” Other critics, including Montana Gov. Marc Racicot (R), have more overtly blamed the administration for the fires, contending that it has given priority to environmental issues over concerns about fire danger.