Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pulping Deregulation

Are our grandchildren safe now? It seems that a lot of the removal of protections for them is being seen for the threat to our future that it was, and in its turn removed. Today, the forest service has been returned to actual service, instead of used as another environmental hazard.

A federal judge has struck down the Bush administration's change to a rule designed to protect the northern spotted owl from logging in national forests.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled from Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday that the U.S. Forest Service failed to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of changing the rule to make it easier to cut down forest habitat of species such as the spotted owl and salmon on 193 million acres of national forests.

"I am hopeful that this is the last nail in the coffin to (President George W.) Bush's assault on our public forests," said Pete Frost, an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center in Eugene, which represented plaintiffs in one of two cases challenging the rule.

At stake was a provision of the National Forest Management Act that required maintaining viable populations of species that indicate the health of an ecosystem, such as the spotted owl. The Bush administration changed the rule last year so it required a framework of protection, rather than maintaining viable populations of wildlife.

The ruling marked the third time federal courts have turned back attempts to change the 1984 version of what is known as the viability rule within the National Forest Management Act.

The judge wrote that an environmental impact statement done by the Forest Service "does not evaluate the environmental impacts of the 2008 rule," and the agency failed to comply with Endangered Species Act requirements to consult with other federal agencies on whether the rule changes would jeopardize the survival of endangered species.

The world is safe for now from the depredations that were perpetrated over the years that the wingers dominated. The threat continues, though, while destructive claims continue to be heard equally, through the media, with reputable voices.

The Senate now has a sufficient majority of Democrats, which should keep the world safer for awhile. This assumes that the new majority will see through the winger sham of deregulation's being good for business. As one safety scare after another has disrupted our markets (food poisoning from spinach and peanut butter for instance) it should have become clear enough that deregulation is a threat, not a benefit.

The future of our world is in better hands today. Now, while they have the advantage, the sane members of Congress should put in place solid members of the judiciary and executive branch, continuing protections for the public for as long as possible.

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