Friday, July 15, 2005

A sham what am

What's speedier than President Bush wiping out several hundred billion dollars of a budget surplus inherited from President Clinton?

Wiping out decades of work by the U.S. Forest Service to inventory and develop a management plan for Idaho's and the nation's roadless woodlands areas.

It's a neatly concocted scheme. The president signs an order instructing the nation's governors to decide whether to keep roadless areas or open them, principally for exploitation by industries.

Governors have 18 months to decide, but with a catch: Even if a governor may want to retain roadless areas, the White House retains the right to override a state's choice.

So, picture this: the Forest Service spends 30 years accumulating data creating the roadless areas policy. Now the White House asks Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and other governors to decide in 18 months whether to abandon it—even then not allowing governors the final word.

Gov. Kempthorne and Republicans in the state Legislature haven't even found a way in four years to comply with a 2001 court order to properly fund public school repairs.

The Bush administration's gambit is as cynical as it gets. The president advertised himself on the campaign trail as the environment's friend. Yet, his executive order works to dismantle the diligent craftsmanship of experts dedicated to creating a legacy of guardianship for the nation's natural wonders.

This is more than hardball political revenge on Democrat policies. It's a return to the age when public-be-damned robber barons raped the landscape for personal enrichment.

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