FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The House’s Version of the Farm Bill is Loaded With Anti-Environmental Provisions

In the coming week or so, Congress will be considering the Farm Bill which has numerous inappropriate amendments for our public forests approved in the House but not in the Senate version.The bill’s fate will be decided in a conference committee between the House and Senate. The House bill as written because of numerous anti-environmental provisions that will fail to protect communities and increase fire intensity resulting from more logging.

+ Among the poison pills in the bill are provisions designed to speed logging in the West under the guise of reducing large wildfires. Not only is logging ineffective at halting large fires which are primarily driven by extreme fire weather/climate, but there are many ecological “costs” to logging including the spread of weeds, sedimentation from logging roads, loss of carbon storage, and disturbance to sensitive wildlife.

+ The House version of the Farm Bill would reduce the requirement for NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) which protects our public lands from unmitigated logging projects. This will eliminate government accountability.

+ The bill would also expand the use of “Categorical Exclusions” (CE) to 6000 acres that could lead to clearcuts as large as 9 square miles without any public review. Furthermore, there is no limit on CEs, so the agency could log one 6000-acre block and immediately adjacent log a second or third 6000-acre block. How big is 6000 acres? A football field is about an acre—so imagine 6000 football fields being cleared of trees.

+ The worse thing about the proposed House Farm Bill is that these provisions are not based on science, but on flawed assumptions about the effect of logging on wildfires. Recently more than 200 preeminent scientists signed a letter to Congress finding that proposed solutions to wildfire like thinning forests are ineffective and short-lived.

+ Worse, such solutions simply do not work under extreme fire weather conditions. With climate change, we are experiencing more extreme fire weather conditions.

+ To quote from the scientists’ letter: “Thinning is most often proposed to reduce fire risk and lower fire intensity…However, as the climate changes, most of our fires will occur during extreme fire-weather (high winds and temperatures, low humidity, low vegetation moisture). These fires, like the ones burning in the West this summer, will affect large landscapes, regardless of thinning, and, in some cases, burn hundreds or thousands of acres in just a few days.”

The letter goes on to say: “Thinning large trees, including overstory trees in a stand, can increase the rate of fire spread by opening up the forest to increased wind velocity, damage soils, introduce invasive species that increase flammable understory vegetation, and impact wildlife habitat.”

+ “Thinning also requires an extensive and expensive roads network that degrades water quality by altering hydrological functions, including chronic sediment loads”, the letter states.

 

More articles by:

George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. He serves on the board of the Western Watersheds Project.

November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
Jim Goodman
We call BS! Now, Will You Please Get Over This Partisanship?
Josh Hoxie
How Aristocracies are Born
Faisal Khan
The Weaponization of Social Media
James Munson
The Left Has Better Things to Do Than Watch Liberals Scratch Their Heads
Kenneth Culton
The Political Is Personal
Graham Peebles
Fracking in the UK
Alycee Lane
The Colonial Logic of Geoengineering’s “Last Resort”
Kevin Basl
How Veterans Changed the Military and Rebuilt the Middle Class
Thomas Knapp
Election 2018: The More Things Don’t Change, the More They Stay the Same
Gary Leupp
Europe and Secondary Iran Sanctions: Where Do We Go Now?
Saurav Sarkar
An Honest Look at Poverty in the Heartland
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail