Thousands of acres of publicly-owned, roadless Colorado forests face renewed threat on Monday after the U.S. Forest Service moved to reinstate a loophole that allows major coal companies to bulldoze over protected lands, paving the way for coal mine expansion and increased carbon emissions of the 'dirtiest' variety.
This is all part of the US Forest Service program of "No Tree Left Behind"
This article should lay to rest any of that Libertarian twaddle that as "Private Property" these forests and woods would be better protected. While true it Government that aiding in the destruction of these forests , it not because of the nature of Government. It is because that Government has been co-opted by money and private interests and acts on the behalf of profits for private interests.
In the "free market" model as promoted by the champions of the same, if the coal below will generate greater profits than the forests above then the forests are expendable. It a system that is beyond stupid.
Another case where the Obama admin's deeds do not match his words. In fact, they do the opposite.
Nothing is sacred or protected anywhere on our planet when it comes to the destructive and unconscionable operations conducted by energy/mining/resource extraction entities, which are carried out with the blessing of the U S government no less. Obama has spouted numerous times the terms "clean coal," which is absurd at best. There is NOTHING clean about coal from its extraction to its combustion. Everyone aware of this impending travesty needs to send their objections in writing to the USDA and its minion, the U S Forest Service before May 22, 2015.. Hopefully the NRDC is aware and doing all it can to impede its implementation.
The Forest Service has a lot going for itself. On ground Service personnel showing up at forest fires half drunk (or with severe hang-overs). Retardant drop air tankers showing up late to a fire (there's more money to be made in prolonging forest fires). Over paid ground air tanker personnel making big party at the hotel- and putting it all down as overtime. It matters not that we are losing half our Moose and Deer population. Yep! Killing the forest one tree at a time.
Demand for lumber is down since the end of the building boom, and yet, logging is experiencing rapid growth in the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. Increasingly, this wood is going to processing facilities which make dried, chipped or pelletized wood for shipment to Europe. There it can be burned as "green" fuel, exempt from carbon taxes, and even receiving renewable energy incentives. This has the effect of increasing the amount that energy companies can profitably pay for wood fuel, so wood-to-fuel is now the fastest-growing tree harvesting and processing industry.
Current wood chip and pellet exports from the U.S. to Europe are running around 2 million tons per year, but large amounts of the green tree biomass is discarded in the production process. The roots are not harvested (and much of that root mass will rot, producing methane), most of the crown is not usable for fuel, and some of the wood is burned to fuel the dryers, to lower the transport cost of the chips, improve handling characteristics, and increase its sale value. So roughly 13 million tons of tree mass is killed in order to produce 2 million tons of export product. Good timberland averages around 50 tons of live tree biomass per acre, so the current export rate is like clearcutting 260,000 acres of forest per year.
The giant coal-fired Drax station in the UK is converting to partially burn wood chips. Once converted, about 70,000 tons of tree mass will have to be felled every day to feed it, and most of that will come from North America. The cost of this conversion will be around $1.1 billion, but thanks to subsidies and carbon tax avoidance, this green miracle will boost the profitability of the power plant by $1.6 billion per year. And that's just one facility. Unsurprisingly, European consumption of wood for fuel is expected to increase six-fold by 2020.
In the U.S. more than 100 biomass generators are permitted and/or under construction, the overwhelming majority of which plan to burn trees for fuel. Operating within their permit constraints, they could burn up to 55 million tons of wood (potentially more than a million acres of trees) per year. And all this despite multiple studies which show that burning trees can produce 50-80% more carbon than coal. (Regrowing the trees recovers the carbon eventually, but there is decades lag, and breakeven might not be reached for a century.)
Something to think about for those getting outraged over the trees which will be knocked down for a few roads within a relatively tiny 19,000 acre area. That's the area of a 5.5 mile square. Even if they clear a swath 50 feet wide for 20 miles within that area, that's 120 acres of trees bulldozed--barely a speck compared to the millions of acres of trees which will be wiped out by green policies and incentives.
greater short term profits.