- WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration
plans to open up vast wilderness areas of the western US to logging, infuriating
the country's environmental movement.
- Under the scheme, which could become an issue in the
November election, roads will no longer be barred by federal government
rules from more than 60 million acres of forest, almost all of it in Alaska
and 11 other western states. With roads, the areas will automatically be
open to logging and mining, unless the governor of a state specifically
requests otherwise in Washington. In the closing months of the Clinton
administration, measures were enacted to protect the wilderness areas and
the wildlife in them, by putting them beyond the reach of industrial development.
- But the Clinton rules have long been under attack in
the courts from several states, led by Idaho which alone has 9.3 million
roadless acres, or 14,000 square miles, more than any other state except
- The White House claims the new process will better respect
the specific concerns of individual states, allowing them to manage an
asset which belongs to them, and whose use affects that state's own citizens.
But critics say the proposals are a sop to the logging companies, which
has been a major supporter of the Bush administration and the Republican
party, which dominates politics in most of the states affected. "The
Bush administration is now doing this the right way," Dirk Kempthorne,
the Republican governor of Idaho said. The new roadless policy "respects
states' rights", he added.
- For environmentalists, the plan is further proof of the
Bush administration's scorn, its wish to open Arctic wildlife sanctuaries
for oil drilling, and to relax the Clean Air Act.
- © 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=540645