I was a touch tough on greenies yesterday. It's a bit more complex than I said, although the basic story remains the same: well-meaning policies to protect the environment have had the unintended consequence of fuelling raging wildfires in California.
A follow-up problem is that the greenies won't learn from this. They won't admit consequences even if they're unintentional. They are already excuse-finding. It's the fault of Trump because he pulled out of the Paris climate accord and so: global warming. And global warming, so: forest fires, hurricanes and floods. And never mind that if we hadn't had the greenies, in the shape mainly of Greenpeace, stop the development of nuclear power in the 70s, we wouldn't have had the rise in CO2 and consequent global warming, in the first place.
Greenies never admitted that the 1970s nuclear scaremongering was wrong. Even if the science says it's wrong. And remember they always say they believe in science. Like the science of global warming. We must all accept it. But the science, if it's about nuclear, or GMOs, fuggedaboutit.
So, even if Trump's tweet on the fires was wildly inappropriate, it's true. But to greenies, it's Trump, so... wrong.
Here's the WSJ on the issue:
One problem with President Trump's bullying rhetorical style is that he gives his critics reason to ignore him even when he has a point. Consider his weekend threat to yank federal funds from California amid its horrific wildfires.
Three fires are raging across the state, killing at least 31 people and scorching more than 200,000 acres, including the town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills. "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Mr. Trump tweeted. "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"
Mr. Trump has no empathy gene even if he is right about forestry ills. Relentless winds and low air moisture make California's fires harder to contain while develop-ment is putting more people in danger. But also fueling the fires is an overgrown government bureaucracy that frustrates proper forest management.
About 57% of California forestland is owned by the federal government while most of the rest is private land regulated by the state. Nearly 130 million trees died in California between 2010 and 2017 due to drought and a bark beetle infestation. Dense forests put trees at greater risk for parasitic infection and enable fires to spread faster. When dead trees fall, they add more combustible fuel.
Once upon a time the U.S. Forest Service's mission was to actively manage the federal government's resources. Yet numerous laws over the last 50 years, including the Endangered Species Act and National Enviromental Policy Act, have hampered tree-clearing, controlled burns and timber sales on federal land.
California also restricts timber harvest-ing and requires myriad permits and environmental-impact statements to prune overgrown forests. As the state Legislative Analysts Office (LAO) dryly noted in April, "project proponents seeking to conduct activities to improve the health of Calfornia's forests indicate that in some cases, state regulatory requirements can be excessively duplicative, lengthy, and costly."
One problem for landowners is disposing of deadwood. Dozens of biomass facilities that burn tree parts that can't be used for lumber have closed due to emissions regulations and competition from subsisized renewables and cheap natural gas.
To burn leaves and tree limbs, landowners must obtain air-quality permits from "local air districts, burn permits from local fire agencies, and potentially other permits depending on the location, size, and type of burn," the LAO explained. "Permits restrict the size of burn piles and vegetation that can be burned, the hours available for burns, and the allowable moisture levels in the material."
The LAO recommended that California prune its regulations, facilitate timber sales and ease permitting for burning biomass. Environmentalists oppose this, but one irony is that destruction from fires imperils species far more than does regulated treeclearing.