Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Christmas Week Surprise

It's always been a PR truism, that if you want to get a bit of bad news out with a minimum of attention, you slip out a press release just before 5 PM on Friday. When the various media outlets get ahold of it, anyone who can comment has gone home. Besides that, Friday evening broadcasts and Saturday morning newspapers have the smallest audiences of the week. If you want to dump really controversial news, slip it out just before a major holiday when almost no one is paying attention.
So what to make of the timing of the Bush Administration's decision to overhaul the rules on managing the nation's forests? To be fair, at least it came out in the beginning of the week. It's not like it came out today, on Christmas Eve. Still, it's curious timing. I can only guess that one of two things happened. One, there was an end of the year deadline for getting the rules out, so they're out. The other is the Interior Department folks knew this was going to be a hot potato, so they decided to slip it out now, when there's not much time for a furor to develop.
Looking at the highlights of the decision, no one should really be surprised. It's not like Bush didn't campaign on these kinds of changes. They look to be popular with industry and unpopular with environmentalists. Big shock there.
Jonathan Adler over at The Commons appears to be coming down on the side of "it's not so bad". Bob Whitson at Howling at a Waning Moon comes down on the side that believes the timing is no accident, and that the administration is dumping an extremely unwelcomed Christmas surprise on the country. Gristmill goes with the Friday surprise theory as well.
Over the course of the next year, I'll try to keep up with what the changes are turning out to be in reality. One thing seems sure, suddenly regional forest managers have become some of the most powerful unelected public officials in certain states. How they execute this plan will reverberate for years.


Blogger back40 said...

This Lehrer segment is useful. I find it encouraging that activists of the left and right are uncomfortable since neither are as concerned about the environment as their own power. The new rules will allow those responsible for forest management, such as Rick Cables the regional forester for the Rocky Mountain region, to be effective. The latitude to be effective does not guarantee effectiveness but the old system guaranteed ineffectiveness so this is an improvement.

9:23 PM  

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