Interior would like a bigger firefighting budget because — you guessed it — climate change
posted at 6:51 pm on May 2, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
I feel like I am taking crazy pills.
If the Department of Interior really needs more money for their firefighting budget, fine. I totally get that. There is no denying that we have seem some absolutely devastating wildfires consuming ever-bigger swaths of the arid West in the past few years, and it is obviously better to be prepared than to get caught with your trousers around your ankles — but can we please, please, please be honest about the real reasons why Interior really needs that extra cash, courtesy of us, the taxpayers?
The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service expect to spend $1.8 billion to fight wildfires this season, $470 million more than Congress provided, the agencies said Thursday, blaming climate change for the increased costs.
The agencies said climate change is causing longer and more intense wildfire seasons. …
“While our agencies will spend the necessary resources to protect people, homes and our forests, the high levels of wildfire this report predicts would force us to borrow funds from forest restoration, recreation and other areas,” Robert Bonnie, the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) under secretary for natural resources and environment, said in a statement. The Forest Service is part of the USDA.
The cost prediction is the highest since a 2009 law took effect requiring three wildfire forecasts each year, the USDA and Interior said. The extreme drought in California, as well as other factors, will make the fires particularly dangerous this year.
In the name of all that is holy, stop using the weather as an all-purpose excuse for every single one of your self-administered problems. At best, warming temperatures may be a contributing factor in worsening the West’s historically parched summertime conditions, but for these guys, climate change is really just a convenient excuse for covering the Department of Interior’s utter failure to exercise smart land-use policies within the third of the surface area of the United States the federal government insisted on bringing under its ownership/stewardship throughout the 20th century.
Warming temperatures, these bureaucrats like to claim, are causing winter snows to melt and rain to evaporate more quickly, so droughts are getting worse and the fire season is getting longer — all of which completely glosses over the way the federal government caved to eco-radicals for decades and suppressed logging and grazing activities in a misbegotten attempt to protect whatever endangered sage grouse was in vogue at the moment. The Forest Service has improved and innovated on some of their policies in the past decade-ish, but we are now reaping the results of the previous decades of untended forests that subsequently got overly dense, overly dry, and are sittin’ pretty, ready to blow.
I can maybe understand why eco-radicals (mistakenly) think that free markets aren’t the best resource manager when it comes to environmental stewardship, but why on earth do they think that putting the landscape at the mercy of the inefficiencies of top-down bureaucratic control (and hence whatever political lobby happens to be most powerful at the moment) is any better? It’s a recipe for disaster, and maybe I’m beating a dead horse here, but the Obama administration and its eco-radical supporters cannot be allowed to act as if the federal government is the virtuous, efficient savior of all things green, when in reality, the federal government directly created a lot of this problem in the first place.