Monday, February 27, 2006

Case in point

Allright, I just got done saying the Bush administration should not be trusted on matters relating to the environment. So guess what I came across in today's Washington Post ... that's right, an article about the Bush administration distorting science in favor of generating profit for industry.

From the report

If fire ravages a national forest, as happened here in southwest Oregon when the Biscuit fire torched a half-million acres four years ago, the Bush administration believes loggers should move in quickly, cut marketable trees that remain and replant a healthy forest.

"We must quickly restore the areas that have been damaged by fire," President Bush said in Oregon four years ago after touring damage from the Biscuit fire. He called it "common sense."

Common sense, though, may not always be sound science. An Oregon State University study has raised an extraordinary ruckus in the Pacific Northwest this winter by saying that logging burned forests does not make much sense.

Logging after the Biscuit fire, the study found, has harmed forest recovery and increased fire risk. What the short study did not say -- but what many critics of the Bush administration are reading into it -- is that the White House has ignored science to please the timber industry. The study is consistent with research findings from around the world that have documented how salvage logging can strip burned forests of the biological diversity that fire and natural recovery help protect.

The study also questions the scientific rationale behind a bill pending in Congress that would ease procedures for post-fire logging in federal forests. This, in turn, has annoyed the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who has received far more campaign money from the forest products industry than from any other source, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
See, it would be one thing to look at the available evidence, admit that post-fire logging is not in the best interests of the forrest, but then decide that economic needs outweighed the benefit of allowing the forest to recover naturally. One may or may not agree with that choice, but that approach allows for an honest debate. Yet, that is now how the Bush administration operates. No. Instead we are told that an action that will benefit the timber industries that have contributed campaign money to Bush and Rep. Walden is being done in the interest of protecting the forests. That is dishonest and insulting, as the purpose of this approach is to side step discussion by tricking the public into agreeing to these acts.

But don't take my word for it, take a look at the advice that pollster Frank Luntz gave to Republicans about how to sell their environmental policy to the public.* Do numbers 4 and 8 sound familiar?

*I'd like to point out the section where Luntz writes about Michael Fumento exposing the legal holes in Erin Brokovitch's case. That's this Michael Fumento and this legal case.

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