Friday, December 24, 2004

Bush Administration releases new environmental regulations.

Yesterday the Bush administration announced a loosening of rules concerning national forest administration and management.

As summed up by Everything,

The new plan gives regional forest managers more discretion to approve logging, drilling and mining operations without having to conduct formal scientific investigations known as environmental impact statements.

Forest Service officials say the idea is to make forest planning more responsive to changing conditions by eliminating unnecessary paperwork and relying on assessments by local and regional managers rather than one-size-fits-all federal requirements.

Some think that this streamlining is long overdue. Many conservationists, however, are up in arms, afraid that endangered species will suffer and that logging will increase from this 'corporate style management.' It was pointed out in this New Zealand Herald article that the announcement was timed two days before Christmas, when Congress will be out of session and news coverage will be almost nonexistant.

The idea that forests' management will be decided by those who work in the forest itself and presumably are more knowledgable about its inner workings than bureaucrats else is an appealing one. The part that worries me that when individual forests' management presents the 15-year management plans, they won't be required to include an environmental impact analysis, or prove that "viable populations" of wildlife exist. This has great potential for being abused outrageously.

This blog discusses some great arguments for both sides, and I am glad to see that others have taken notice of the issue. Rock on, dudes and dudettes.


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