Perhaps the most important environmental decisions the Forest Service makes is the 15-year (on the average) forest plans for each of national forests. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has always been at the core of the forest plans. NFMA, the National Forest Management Act, requires the forest plans and their updating, but it’s NEPA that guarantees they have to truly consider the public’s opinion (including the opinion of the timber industry, and extractive groups). It is also NEPA that guarantees that their data is accurate, reality-based, so there won’t be made-up figures to satisfy some local or state politician.
Now the Forest Services has issued a final rule that lets the Service ignore NEPA when amending or writing new forest management plans.
This means the Forest Plans won’t have any scientific analysis to support them, and they won’t apply until and if future decisions are made. It makes the Forest Service blind and renders the Forest Plans meaningless.
Was it happening is the standards of politicized intelligence gathering and interpretation that led the United States into Iraq to get those “terrible WMDs” will now be applied to the pride of American public lands, the National Forests.
Brodie Farquhar has the news in New West.
I imagine these new regulations will be struck down in court, but it shows the spirit corruption so typical of the old Congress and the hatred of science so typical of the Bush Administration lives on in the Department of Agriculture of which the Forest Service is part.
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Related New Controls on Publishing Research Worry USGS Scientists. AP. International Herald Tribune. “The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who study everything from caribou mating to global warming, subjecting them to controls on research that might go against official policy.”
So information about grizzly bears, elk, and climate change is going to be subject to censorship by political commissars, just like in any totalitarian country, although I have not heard of despots censoring information about wildife before.
Related too. The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science. Union of Concerned Scientists