The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed President Bush’s “Healthy Forests” initiative, which would limit environmental and judicial reviews of proposed tree-cutting projects in the name of preventing forest fires. Approval of the initiative came despite a report released last week by the General Accounting Office that found that, contrary to White House allegations, very few logging projects were subject to significant delays as a result of environmental and judicial reviews. Proponents of Healthy Forests say the initiative would enable the removal of decades’ worth of highly combustible underbrush and trees from as many as 20 million acres of public lands. But critics call the plan a smokescreen to permit backcountry logging by playing on fears ignited during last summer’s wildfire season. Although the House measure passed 256 to 170 (after an eleventh-hour White House rally to bring representatives over to Bush’s side), the fate of the bill is far less certain in the Senate, which killed a similar measure last year.