Does Pew's ad on the roadless rule get it right?


Editor's note: Sharon Friedman blogs on forest policy at "A New Century of Forest Planning" and will be posting occasionally on the Range blog.

In the Denver Post this morning, I saw the full page ad you see here below. I couldn’t figure out how to link to it, since it was an advertisement, but I did find out more about the campaign at Pew Environment's site, which also has a copy of the ad. (pdf)

Note that the Pew Charitable Trusts has on its webpage:

“The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.”

What I found questionable about “knowledge” was the statement, in the second paragraph of the ad.

Yet your administration is considering a plan that would open up many of these areas to new drilling, expanded logging, and coal mining.

Let's take "New drilling"

No one has yet explained how the proposed Colorado rule opens new areas to drilling. It would be interesting to have that discussion here, if someone can explain the thinking.

How about “Expanded logging?”

Is the “logging” intended to mean fuel treatments in the wildlife urban interface?

If so, many may be interested to know that individuals from some of the same groups named in the advertisement (when arguing why state rules were not needed) have said that the 2001 allows the same “logging” under the exception:

To maintain or restore the characteristics of ecosystem composition and structure, such as to reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire effects, within the range of variability that would be expected to occur under natural disturbance regimes of the current climatic period.”

It seems intellectually inconsistent to say, on the one hand, that fuels treatments are allowed under the 2001 Roadless Rule, and then to later claim that fuels treatments are “expanded logging” and only allowed under the Colorado Rule.

Aside: Under the 2001 rule, “maintain or restore” fuels treatments are not restricted to 1/2 mile from communities, so it could be argued that the 2001 Rule, in fact, allows “expanded logging” compared to the Colorado Rule.

Finally, "and coal mining"

The exception that allows temporary roads (2-3 years) to vent methane from underground coal mines (not exactly the same image as “coal mining”, but...OK) was allowed in the proposal on 16-20K or so more acres than allowed under the 2001 Rule on (I think) one roadless area.

The way the statement is made “open up many to drilling, logging and coal mining” without an “or” instead of an “and” would indicate (if they are using standard English) that temporary roads for methane venting would be allowed on “many” roadless areas. Since the usual idea is that it takes more than one to be “many”, this is also not a fact.

So there are three assertions and 0/3 are, strictly speaking,true. Doesn’t seem very like a very “rigorous and analytical” approach to me. Just sayin’.

P.S. The Pew website refers to ” A letter from 520 leading scientists expressing concern about the Colorado proposal went to the administration in December 2009.” I remember one that was sent April 14, 2010.. (I wonder if there are really two?) that I posted this blog post about on Roger Pielke, Jr.'s blog here.

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