By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
High-speed rail takes funds from wildfire reduction
Dennis Wyatt

You may be thrilled to know as you’ve been inhaling greenhouse gases, AKA smoke from wildfires, hidden taxes collapsed into the price you pay at the pump for gas is helping keep 124,000 acres of forestland in northern Maine healthy.

Meanwhile the cap and trade czars in Sacramento earmarked only $30 million of the more than $1 billion collected annually on reducing fuel — dead and dying trees — in forests to prevent wildfires in California. That is despite scientific research that underscores one major wildfire is capable of wiping out all the net gains in greenhouse gas reductions the cap and trade program can muster in one year.

This has happened because the green lobby led by self-serving interests such as Elon Musk and advocates for a host of environmental pet projects have effectively politicized the California Global Warming Solutions and the $1 billion or so a year in cap and trade revenue the state receives from companies such as oil firms that collapse what is essentially a tax into the price of goods consumers pay.

Climate change is natural. The debate regarding greenhouse gases is how much man is moving the dial. If man is indeed moving the dial significantly then one would assume we need to make sure the return for cap and trade investment is as effective as possible in terms of impact on mean annual temperatures and air quality.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016 published research based on NASA imagery that determined 888 million big trees in California had a severe decline in moisture content due to the prolonged drought.

Moisture deficient trees coupled with dead trees and overgrown dried out brush is why wildfires are so big this year. That in turn has given Central Valley residents for the last 16 days and counting a surge in greenhouse gas emissions in the form of wildfire smoke.

Yet we are spending only $30 million a year out of $1 billion available to try and clear California’s stressed forests of fuel to feed raging wildfires.

Part of it is for the high-speed drain on resources — the bullet train with a cost now that is closing in in $100 billion before it can go somewhere instead of to nowhere. High speed rail has netted $958 million so far from cap and trade revenue. It is by far the largest cut of the pie. Out of every $1 spent from cap and trade to combat greenhouse gas, high speed rail gets 25 percent.

A number of proponents of aggressive policies to combat climate change like to argue those who disagree with them ignore the science and could simply find the facts by a 30-second Google search. The problem is they tend to be selective in what facts they Google from scientific journals.

If the situation is as dire as they believe, then we need to make sure how we spend what funds we have to combat climate change as effectively as possible.

Of course, there is one inconvenient truth — those throwing up the most insurmountable roadblocks to such courses of action are not climate change naysayers. They’re environmentalists.

Who do you think opposes clearing out dead and dying trees by filing lawsuits to stop it? Environmentalists. Remember the massive Big Rim Fire in 2013 that threatened Yosemite? It took over

two years to get most environmental groups to agree to a middle-of-the-road logging and restoration plan and still lawsuits were filed.

In 2016 the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a $5.6 million grant to thin eucalyptus trees in the Oakland Hills. The approval came after the original application request was made 10 years by the University of California and neighborhood groups for clear cutting.

The reason for the grant? Eucalyptus trees were the main fuel that fed the 1991 Oakland Hills wildfire that killed 25 people and destroyed 2,843 homes and 432 apartments and condo units.

The FEMA grant has since been cancelled. Why? They were sued by environmentalists who said they were against deforestation of eucalyptus trees in the hills above Oakland although the grant would only allow the thinning of the trees.

And we wonder why California is burning.

Meanwhile instead of cap and trade money going to help replant large swaths of the Stanislaus National Forest destroyed by the Big Rim Fire, it is going to assure that 124,000 acres of forest of Maine’s border with Canada can grow bigger, be healthier and live longer to help cleanse air in New England.

The rationale is we all benefit from cleaner air regardless of where it is. But when live in the 450-mile long and 40 to 60-mile-wide bowl known as the Great Central Valley, it will have little if any positive effect on efforts to rollback greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels especially compared to what an aggressive replanting of forestland scared by the Big Rim Fire or reducing fuel levels so future wildfires won’t be as intense.

At the same time electric cars — which require electricity to charge them that is more often than not generated by fossil fuel — receive 11 times more a year in cap and trade subsidies than the $30 million set aside to reduce the fuel that feeds wildfires.

The biggest threat to any effort to reduce climate change as framed today isn’t from the “deniers” as much as it is from environmentalists with tunnel vision who gave death grips on their pet projects.

They’re the ones that can’t see the forest for the trees.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.