Notes on the Atrocities
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Wednesday, February 12, 2003  

More on the Logging Wars

From the LA Times, news that Alaksa senator Ted Stevens wants to slip a timber-industry giveaway into the federal budget. It's particularly slimy because the budget's way overdue, and if it gets through the murkiness of a current debate on farming, it's likely not to be challenged.

Salient elements:

"One measure would create a program to allow the timber industry to harvest prime trees in exchange for their help in managing the forests. Others focus on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, the largest national forest and the one with the most undeveloped land.

"Both the Tongass and the Chugach National Forest, also in Alaska, would be exempted from a nationwide policy banning road building in undeveloped national forest areas. The Forest Service would have to let the industry cut enough timber sales in the Tongass to satisfy market demand. And the forest management plan would be sheltered from legal challenges.

"Together these efforts are designed to provide a steady supply of old-growth trees from the Tongass without interruptions that have become common as a result of lawsuits filed by environmental groups.

It sounds like horrible public policy--designed to benefit timber industry executives in the short run at the expense of forests and the logging industry. There's nothing in the provision that encourages timber companies to develop sustainable harvest techniques, nor money that could be used to convert mills to harvesting second growth.

It's a slimy enough maneuver that even a group of Republicans said it "would seriously undermine the legislative process to add new provisions behind closed doors and at the very last minute to a must-pass spending bill that is already four months old."

(As an aside, a troubling pattern in journalism is to cite "environmentalists" as a kind of collective, often without attributing a single quote to a particular group. Environmentalists span the range from the pro-violence Earth Liberation Front to Sport-Ute drivin Sierra Clubbers. This article eventually cites two sources, but it's late in the article. As part of their agenda in the language wars, Republicans have successfully demonized the word "environmentalists." Journalists should hold themselves to a higher standard here and not paint all opponents of radical, rape-the-forests legislation with the same brush.)

posted by Jeff | 10:09 AM |
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