The latest salvo is over the federal government's ownership and use of 193 millions of land in 155 national forests. The Obama administration would like to have some balance and common sense in land use, something that has been missing for three decades. The supposedly anti-environment Reagan administration, and successive ones, allowed a series of poorly-written environmental mandates that have led to numerous lawsuits that decimated domestic logging, exporting of those jobs to Canada and China, while causing, California being one example, runaway wildfire problems because even responsible cutting was tied up in lawsuits. And ten years ago, four Americans were charged with importing lobster tails to the US in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes, because environmental laws made the American court enforce an outdated Honduran regulation that even Honduras does not enforce.
The Obama administration would like to avoid blanket rules nationwide that clearly don't take into account local diversity, like dry brush in California woods leading to wildfires, and leave local decisions to the people who know it best, like "local indigenous knowledge, public input, agency policies, the results of the monitoring process and the experience of land managers on the ground," said Forest Service director of ecosystem management coordination Tony Tooke.
This is clearly an area where Pres. Obama would like to be the mainstream candidate voters said they wanted. It hasn't been better for America or the environment when environmental lobbyists have helped write poorly-worded national guidelines easy to tie up in court.
It's a smart move to include and empower local experts in regions to make decisions about responsible land use, but environmental groups have a fetish for centralized bureaucracies, a further sign of the impending split between militant progressives and liberal people who don't believe government intrusion should occur at the expense of freedom. The current system hasn't led to better use of American land and gerrymandering 'science' to be whatever the fad du jour is has not made science look great either.
It's time to try something new and Pres. Obama is correct in taking a moderate course.
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