Chuck DeVore Contributor
Jul 30, 2018, #Regulation
IDYLLWILD, CA – JULY 26: The Cranston Fire burns in San Bernardino National Forest on July 26, 2018 near Idyllwild, California.
Fire crews are battling the 4,700-acre fire in the midst of a heat wave. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
California is once again on fire. Northern California’s Carr Fire has killed six people, two of them firefighters, and continues to burn out of control,
claiming more than 700 homes and about 100,000 acres.
As a citizen-soldier in the California Army National Guard for two decades, I often heard the gallows humor quip that California’s four seasons were:
flood, fire, earthquake and riot.
But, what was once an expected part of living in the Golden State is now blamed on larger forces.
A crisis, we are told, should never go to waste.
In that vein, the Sacramento Bee editorial board blamed the Carr Fire foursquare on a man-caused buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In an editorial headlined, “The Carr Fire is a terrifying glimpse into California’s future,” they write, “This is climate change, for real and in real time.
We were warned that the atmospheric buildup of man-made greenhouse gas would eventually be an existential threat.”
The Bee editorial board goes on to attack President Trump for proposing to end California’s exceptional waiver from federal law regarding auto emissions—in this case,
California’s push to curtail tailpipe carbon dioxide, something never envisioned when the Clean Air Act was debated in 1970. At the time, the concern was pollution that
directly harmed health rather than carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring gas exhaled by every living animal.
The problem with the Bee’s editorial is that making a passionate argument is no substitute for the truth.
In 2005 while a freshman California Assemblyman, I had the chance to visit Northern California and meet with the forest product industry professionals who grew, managed,
and harvested trees on private and public lands. They told me of a worrisome trend started years earlier where both federal and state regulators were making it more and more
difficult for them to do their jobs. As a result, timber industry employment gradually collapsed, falling in 2017 to half of what it was 20 years earlier, with imports from Canada, China,
and other nations filling domestic need.
As timber harvesting permit fees went up and environmental challenges multiplied, the people who earned a living felling and planting trees looked for other lines of work.