Obama Reverses Bush's Oregon Logging Rule, Saves Millions of Acres of Forest


Photo via Oregon Live

Yesterday, a number of green and liberal-leaning news outlets threw up the headline "Obama Approves Logging in Roadless National Forest" or something along those lines. I know--I wrote one of them. But the outcry might have been premature, as many commenters pointed out. Not in the least because pretty much around the same time that the Obama administration was approving the logging contract in Alaska, it was overturning a Bush-era logging rule--one that essentially cut the available forests to loggers in half.And while I stand by the assertion that environmentalists are coming to grips with the fact that Obama's not going to be the green-without-exception leader some had come to believe him to be. But those expectations were set by a pretty stellar opening performance: some exciting, progressive campaign trail ideas (green job generation, renewable energy funding), and some seriously good green work in his first months in office (nice cabinet appointments, an ambitious, active EPA, a solid national fuel efficiency standard, clean energy R&D; etc).

So I, and others, might've overreacted some when the announcement came Obama was approving a logging contract in a roadless forest. Nevermind that it was a tiny contract, and had already been approved by the Bush administration, and some of the roads were already built.

New Logging Restrictions in Oregon
And just to make the other decision seem even more inconsequential consider this: (from the NY Times)

In a move to protect endangered species, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Thursday that his department had reversed a Bush administration decision to double the amount of logging allowed in and around old-growth forests in western Oregon.
Now, bear in mind that the rain forest logging contract will allow loggers to cut 4.4 million feet of board timber, in an area that's around 350 acres. The Oregon rule, on the other hand, overturned by Obama, was a tad worse:
The Bush policy, challenged in the courts by environmentalists, would have allowed timber companies to cut up to 502 million board-feet of lumber annually from 2.6 million acres of forests in the region, or about double the amount allowed under the Northwest Forest Plan, which was adopted in 1994 under President Bill Clinton.
In short, it seems we have relatively little to worry about when it comes to Obama's stance on logging--there's no real risk he'll be signing away the rights to raze our national forests anytime soon.

More on Obama's Green Ideas
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Obama's Budget Passed, So Will America Get Greener ? A Guide

Tags: Barack Obama | Deforestation | Economics

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