FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump Administration Falsely Blames Environmental Lawsuits for Forest Fires

Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis | CC BY 2.0

It is clear that the Trump administration is leading on one thing: making stuff up. Ryan Zinke, Sonny Perdue, Steve Daines and Greg Gianforte followed Donald Trump’s lead in using alternative facts in their recent press conference near the Lolo Peak Fire. The Trump administration apparently believes that it is because of lawsuits that we have forest fires during this exceptionally hot, dry and windy summer.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies is a powerful group and we fight hard to preserve forests, but we certainly don’t control the weather or the warming climate. Moreover, there is no lawsuit in the Lolo Peak area, and the Lolo Peak area has already undergone extensive logging.

In the Trump administration’s alternative reality, climate change has nothing to do with forest fires because, as Trump has pronounced, “global warming is a Chinese hoax.” The 2014 National Climate Assessment estimates wildfires in Montana will increase by 400 percent to 700 percent in the next 50 years if climate change is not addressed.

Protecting old growth forests from logging is one way to do this. National forests absorb an astounding 10 percent of the carbon that America creates and unlogged and old growth forests absorb the most.

The politicians at the Lolo Peak Fire press conference could do something about the main driver of wildfire — they could commit to addressing climate change – starting with participation in the Paris Climate Accord. But instead they promote more coal burning and taxpayer-subsidized logging on public lands, which will only exacerbate climate change.

The Trump administration has even complained that our lawsuit temporarily pausing the Stonewall timber sale resulted in the wildfire burning in the northern part of the Stonewall project area. Not surprisingly, their argument is not supported by facts. That wildfire started with a lighting strike outside of the planned treatment units, so the fire would have started regardless of whether the project units were logged. Indeed, natural wildfires regularly burn in this area, as evidenced by the fact that the Park Creek fire is now surrounded on three sides by formerly burned areas, which have mostly stopped the spread of this fire. Significantly, it also does not appear that any of the timber sale’s commercial logging units have burned.

These fact-challenged politicians also claimed that we have shut down half the timber sales in Montana, a contention that even the U.S. Forest Service denied. Instead, our region of the Forest Service has met 89 percent of its timber logging targets over the last 15 years and the target has been increasing almost every year. 2017 is not over yet, but a February Great Falls Tribune article titled “Logging in Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest best in decades” reported that loggers had never seen this much timber available.

These politicians also neglected to mention that the state’s largest wildfire — 270,000 acres that destroyed 16 homes in eastern Montana — burned mostly through grasslands, not forests, which is probably why they held their pro-logging press conference in front of Lolo Peak rather than in eastern Montana.

The Trump administration calls it “frivolous” when citizens prevail in lawsuits forcing the government to comply with its own laws. To the contrary, it is the basis of our democracy and civil justice system that citizens have the power to force the government to follow its own laws. So despite the barrage of lies, insults, fear-mongering and scapegoating directed at us, we will not back down. We will continue to fight to protect and conserve our priceless public lands and the fish and wildlife that depend on them for survival. Join us.

More articles by:

Mike Garrity is the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail