Enacted in January 2001, after the largest public participation process in U.S. history, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule sought protection of the remaining third of America's last wild places, including 63,661 acres of pristine national forest lands.
Last week the Bush administration effectively repealed the Roadless Rule, placing many of these areas into forest management designations that allow road construction and logging.
This most recent proposal requires governors of each state to petition the administration for roadless protection. The petition process is difficult and the administration can reject or ignore any states petition. Even if a petition is heard, the result could be no permanent protection.
Once again the administration is siding with the timber industry against the wishes of the American public -- both men and women, Republicans and Democrats -- who want a strong federal policy that permanently protects roadless areas.
Roads built in national forests are primarily for industrial uses -- such as logging, mining, and oil drilling. These roads damage watersheds, destroy wildlife habitat, and ruin scenic vistas.
Scientific studies show that roads allow for the spread of both native and exotic pests and pathogens, and that they increase the chances of wildfires.
This administration continues to turn a deaf ear toward the public's demand for securing these places -- natural areas that provide us with clean air and water, hunting and fishing, recreation, and solitude. Meanwhile, the voices of industry and special interests are being heard loud and clear.
It is time, again, to let the administration know that WE want these national treasures -- our last wild places -- protected. The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register this week and is available at www.fs.fed.us. There is a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule.
Written comments on the proposed rule may be mailed to: Content Analysis Team, ATTN: Roadless State Petitions, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City, UT 84122; faxed to (801) 517-1014; or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments also may be submitted from www.regulations.gov/.
The Forest Service will issue a final rule after it evaluates public comments. Please let your voice be heard.
Executive Director, Georgia Forestwatch
Nuclear article misleading
Your article and the report it cites are grossly misleading. (Report warns of danger in the resurgence of the nuclear power industry, June 30). After one cuts through all the dramatics, the fact is that the accident at Three Mile Island never threatened to become a widespread disaster, as can be seen in the report of the Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island and numerous other studies, both public and private.
These studies have demonstrated that the accident could not even have proceeded much further, so there was never a real danger of widespread harm. It certainly was not on its way to become a hydrogen bomb, for in fact that is a physical impossibility. Nuclear plants in the U.S. are designed so that they can never explode like a bomb because there is never a sufficient concentration of fuel for that to occur.
As for Chernobyl, that kind of accident is impossible in U. S. reactors because of their built-in design. The Chernobyl reactor design was unstable under certain operating conditions, and the Russians knew that. Their solution was to be careful.
In this country we do not allow the construction of reactors that are unstable under any condition. The basic laws of physics preclude our reactors from undergoing a Chernobyl-type accident, or anything like it.
We can certainly allow ourselves to be scared into abandoning nuclear energy by reports filled with technical inaccuracies. On the other hand we can recognize that todays nuclear power plants are running safer than ever, as measured by Nuclear Regulatory Commission criteria.
Operating costs for nuclear plants have dropped below those for coal so that power costs are also declining. Yet unlike coal or other fossil fuels, nuclear does not produce air pollution or greenhouse gases.
We need the next generation of nuclear plants to keep the environment clean and the economy running. What we do not need is inaccurate and misleading information clouding the debate over our energy future.
Bordeaux is like Clinton
Regarding your interviews of Tom Bordeaux and Pearl Persad, I know little about Pearl Persad, but I have known Tom Bordeaux professionally for over twenty years, and in his political and public statements, he is a Demi-Clinton.
He has told me that he disapproves of several things about Bill Clinton, but his political style is virtually identical. Tom has the standard liberal Democratic party agenda, but in discussing any particular topic, he won't admit it.
Instead, à la Clinton, he tries to change the subject to only that part of the topic that can be exploited to further his agenda, while smearing his opponents as dangerous, malevolent, and untrustworthy. Demagoguery, in other words, not debate.
In your interview, he claimed to support some measures of tort reform, but I haven't heard of any actual tort reform bill he's sponsored or supported. Smoke and mirrors. Tom supports tort reform the way Bill Clinton supported welfare reform: only if it is politically unavoidable.
Then he referred to Republicans as looking for "convenient victims," and trying to intimidate and anger voters. Puh-leeze! The people on the left are the ones telling us we should try to understand why Islamic terrorists hate us, and yet when it comes to understanding his own fellow Americans on the other side of the political aisle, Tom makes no such effort. He's content to use character smears aimed at undermining public trust in his opponents again, an effort to discredit his opponents (on every issue all at once), rather than debating the merits of a topic in its entirety.
Coming to grips with the differences between the right and left may be hard, but personally, I have trust problems with people who don't take those differences seriously, or who won't admit what their agenda is.
Tom demonizes his opponents and smogs over his true agenda. This chronic sewing of distrust among the public does more damage than any good his agenda could ever hope to do.
Adoption Law Office of Birney OBrien Bull