I’m Testifying At A House Hearing Friday On Bark Beetles, Drought And Wildfires

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"I’m Testifying At A House Hearing Friday On Bark Beetles, Drought And Wildfires"

The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands is having a hearing Friday on 3 bills responding to the growing crisis of bark beetles, drought, and wildfires.

The hearing is at 9 a.m. Details are here and below the jump. You will be able to watch it here.

I will live tweet the first panel (the Member panel) here.

Supposedly everyone else will be on one big panel. I have no idea how long  the Member panel will run. I’d guess I’ll be speaking by 10:30, but that can easily be off by 30 minutes or more.

In case anyone doesn’t know what I think about these subjects, you can read:

SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS

1334 Longworth House Office Building 9:00 a.m

AGENDA

Legislative hearing on:

  • HR 5744 (Gosar), To address the forest health, public safety, and wildlife habitat threat presented by the risk of wildfire, including catastrophic wildfire, on National Forest System lands and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management by requiring the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to expedite forest management projects relating to hazardous fuels reduction, forest health, and economic development, and for other purposes. “Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012”
  • HR 5960 (Markey), To amend the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to improve the response to insect infestations and related diseases and to change the funding source for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program, to codify the stewardship end result contracting and good neighbor authorities, and to amend the emergency watershed protection program to improve post fire rehabilitation, and for other purposes.  “Depleting Risk from Insect Infestation, Soil Erosion, and Catastrophic Fire Act of 2012”
  • HR 6089 (Tipton),  To address the bark beetle epidemic, drought, deteriorating forest health conditions, and high risk of wildfires on National Forest System land and land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management in the United States by expanding authorities established in the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 to provide emergency measures for high-risk areas identified by such States, to make permanent Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management authority to conduct good-neighbor cooperation with States to reduce wildfire risks, and for other purposes.  “Healthy Forest Management Act of 2012”

 

WITNESSES

Members Panel

  • Rep. Paul Gosar, AZ (HR 5744) Member of Congress
  • Rep. Ed Markey, MA (HR 5960) Member of Congress
  • Rep. Scott Tipton, CO (HR 6089) Member of Congress

Witnesses

  • Mary Wagner, Associate Chief U.S. Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture
  • Ed Roberson. Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning Bureau of Land Management Department of the Interior
  • David Cook, Arizona Cattlemen’s Association Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (Testifying on HR 5744)
  • Doyel Shamley, Natural Resource Coordinator Apache County, AZ (Testifying on HR 5744)
  • Hank Kashdan, National Association of Forest Service Retirees (Testifying on HR 6089)
  • Tom Jankovsky, Commissioner Garfield County, CO (Testifying on HR 6089)
  • Dan Gibbs, Commissioner Summit County, CO (Testifying on HR 5744, HR 5960 and HR 6089)
  • Joseph Romm, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress (Testifying on HR 5744, HR 5960 and HR 6089)
« »

27 Responses to I’m Testifying At A House Hearing Friday On Bark Beetles, Drought And Wildfires

  1. todd tanner says:

    Don’t pull any punches.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Joe: Good luck. I agree with Todd: Don’t pull any punches.

    That said, may I ask whether CP will be covering Jill Stein’s and the Green Party’s stances on climate change and energy?

    The question of political strategies aside — if you like — it seems to me that public understanding and discourse will benefit if climate change blogs cover, as they should, the views of all candidates regarding climate change: indeed, especially the clearest and strongest views. And, such coverage — which is called-for anyhow — can only help to prompt/encourage the other candidates to discuss their views on climate change.

    If CP is genuinely concerned with climate change, as you are of course, and if CP and CAP are truly nonpartisan, then Obama should have to compete with Stein in the open-and-transparent marketplace of ideas regarding what he will do, if elected, regarding climate change and related energy issues. CP’s readers should get a point-by-point concrete comparison of the stances of Obama, Stein, and (oh yes) even Romney in order to be genuinely informed; AND such comparisons and discussions should help to encourage and “drive” Obama to have to become evermore clear about what he will actually do, if we elect him again.

    For more than one reason, I think that CP should be giving clear coverage to the Green Party’s stance on climate change, and I think CP should consider that such coverage will be an important part of helping all the candidates see that they’ll need to be more concrete about climate change if they really want to ask for, and earn, our votes.

    Thanks, and Good Luck tomorrow.

    Jeff

    • Dan Ives says:

      “if CP and CAP are truly nonpartisan” – and there lies the problem. If the posts on this blog aren’t enough evidence, go check out the main Think Progress blog. CAP is a very loyal ally to Obama and the Democrats, even if they occasionally post criticism on this blog. There is no way they would ever cover Jill Stein and the Greens.

      But I agree 100% with your post. Stein’s position on climate change and her proposed solution are superb. More people need to learn about her and the Greens.

    • Joe Romm says:

      No punches will be pulled!

  3. Gail says:

    Why don’t you point out to them that trees are dying everywhere in the world – from air pollution? Tell them that bark beetles are attacking and killing trees in places that NEVER had cold winters – because the trees have lost immunity to insects, disease and fungus from absorbing tropospheric ozone? Tell them that ozone is even more poisonous for vegetation than it is for people, who now suffer from epidemics of cancer, asthma, heart disease and diabetes, all linked to air pollution from burning fuel.

    Trees dying from pollution contribute to drought because evapotranspiration is disrupted. They are also less able to survive drought because the first effect from ozone, even before visible symptoms are apparent on foliage and needles, is shrunken roots.

    This is why they are falling over so much more in wind, creating lost power when they knock over electric lines. If you need links to published scientific research that substantiates these assertions they are all available in a free pdf here: http://www.deadtrees-dyingforests.com/pillage-plunder-pollute-llc/

    • Mark says:

      There are many trees dying on the canadian prairies.

      thanks Joe.

      I wish some reporter would ask Obama about climate change.

      not a word of it has been mentioned by him or Romney.
      amazing.

  4. Paul Magnus says:

    Bring up the fact that the fossil fuel industry needs to be converted to the sustainable industry for an effective intervention on GW. Never mind a carbon tax.

    I think this basically involves nationalizing these companies. Or something similar.

    At some point in the escalation of the onslaught of the extreme extreme weather events, we will have to start declaring national states of emergencies. Then the nationalization or conversion of the FF industries becomes possible.

  5. Dan Ives says:

    Joe, will the video be recorded for those of us who can’t watch the live stream? If not, would you be willing to post a summary and your reactions after it’s over (for those who don’t use twitter)? That would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  6. EDpeak says:

    Glad your voice will be there JR. It’s nice to have a progressive voice testify.

    And since you *are* among those who have and in the future probably will again be invited to testify before congress, maybe you’ll bump into Google’s CEO sometime? He just recently had a lover’s quarrel with another “titan of industry” and they both agree government goes almost everything wrong and for-profit businesses do mostly things right but the icing on the cases is Eric Schmidt thinks that:

    “new technologies in gas and oil can make us independent this decade!”

    if only bad old government won’t get in the way of fracking and shale oil and oil shale and tar sands and all that good stuff!

    For real here’s the video:

    http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2012/07/19/bst-thiel-demographics.fortune/?iid=HP_River

    • EDpeak says:

      He was so blanket” about his statements it might even be necessary to add “and arctic drilling” (inter alia) to that list… :(

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      You’re not really surprised, are you. a capitalist is an enemy of life, no matter how trendy his line of destruction. The only criterion is profitability. If they can turn a buck out of it, they will do anything.

  7. Hey Joe- we are committed to 3X today’s warming!

    That’s a dire food emergency for the US!

    I hope Joe informs Congress that according to basic climate science the world today is absolutely committed to three times today’s warming. The ocean heat lag alone commits to us to double today’s warming.

  8. All three of these dreadful proposed bills assume that *more* forest manipulation needs to be done, rather than getting the timber industry and fire fighters out of our forests all together.

    [Iif you didn't know the party affiliations of the panel members of Congress, you would be hard-pressed to pick out Markey's as the Democratic bill.]

    Best advice: tell Congress to just adjourn and go home.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      As they see increased CO2 as such a boon, why don’t they volunteer to sit in any enclosed chamber and enjoy the benefits of a steadily rising level.

  9. Paul Klinkman says:

    I’d say, “Give em hell” but it’s too hot outside already. One cartoonist drew people crowding into Hades to cool off.

    For forests, the new dead tree normal is already on the ground. Set fires in November just before the first quenching snow/rain of the winter moves in, to head off the massive new normal fires in summer. Use goats to eat/cut fire lines. Plant tougher species as needed. Take up African Greenbelt tactics in the U.S.

    Don’t allow China to monopolize the world’s photovoltaic panel business. Stick up for this country.

    Don’t jerk the wind power business around every two years.

    Don’t sell coal on BLM lands for a pittance. That coal feeds China for a pittance. The Post-Maoist Chinese oligarchy is an unneeded American corporate welfare queen. Worse, it makes a mockery of 1000 tiny efforts to save carbon.

    Ingenuity is different from business acumen. Instead of forcing lone inventors to be both entrepreneurs and their own patent lawyers, competing on a tilted playing field against fabulously wealthy Saudi Arabia, GE and China, Inc., just pay the successful and meritorious climate inventors some rent money directly. Bunch of tightwads!

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Paul, don’t obsess over China. That the US turn at controlling the planet is over, and the 500 years of European meddling in the affairs of the rest of humanity is also finished, is very good news, most of all for the citizens of the USA and Europe. If the USA was simply to stop interfering in every other country on earth and destroying those that refuse to follow orders, US popularity would soar, and not just amongst greedy elites and fascist militaries. And if the USA reduced its military expenditure by 50%, you’d have 700 billion or so per annum to work on your crumbling infrastructure, education, healthcare and environment. The Chinese believe in ‘live and let live’ and will allow you the peace to get on with perfecting your society, rather than poking their nose into your business. You really could learn a lot from them-they’ve had 5000 years of practise at this ‘civilization’ lark.

  10. Mike Roddy says:

    Don’t take offense, Joe, but this subject desperately needs to be addressed by qualified forest carbon scientists.

    The notion that “fuels reduction” will accomplish something is not at all supported by the science. Someone needs to point that out in testimony. The study of the Biscuit Fire confirms this.

    We need natural, resilient forests, not woodlands that being constantly cut down, fragmented, and converted to short rotation monocultures. The science here is quite clear in showing how “managed” forests have hotter microclimates, and do not survive fires well.

    • I agree with Mike. There is so much bad science and mythology about wildfire and climate change, even within the federal land management agencies.

      Nothing sequesters carbon like an intact natural ecosystem. Standard industrial thinning releases more carbon from forests than wildfire. And forests, left unsalvaged and undisturbed, quickly recapture the fraction of their carbon store lost through fire.

      Good luck, Joe, on bringing light to the proceedings!

      • Lewis Cleverdon says:

        Kevin – you assert that “Nothing sequesters carbon like an intact natural ecosystem” but, having been studying the issue for just over 25 years, I’m unable to agree with you.

        On a given area of temperate or tropical land the ancient sylviculture of deciduous coppice forestry not only yields a greater annual increase of wood – by around 20% – due to the established root ball boosting regrowth after harvest,
        it also accommodates the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem in Europe and, so other regions’ researchers tell me, elsewhere as well.

        In terms of optimizing the sequestration of carbon, converting the cyclical harvest to charcoal (while nurturing regrowth from the stumps) allows the plowing-in of that near-pure carbon as a soil fertility enhancer and moisture moderator.

        The resulting net carbon sequestration is far larger than a ‘natural intact’ ecosystem can achieve (should you be able to find such a thing under intensifying climate destabilization) since the latter sequesters only at the rate that it builds soil over the long term. For instance, the Amazon Rainforest, that is about 60 million years old, has on average just 12 inches of soil in place, with a relatively small increment being transported to the Atlantic seabed each year by its rivers.

        Moreover, when trees die and fall, much of the wood within their trunks decays anaerobically, thereby releasing its carbon not as CO2 but as CH4, methane, which is over 100 times as potent a GHG over the critical 20-year time horizon. Given the rising destruction of forestry world wide though desiccation, infestation and demolition by windstorms and landslide, a significant fraction of standing timber’s carbon will be released as methane if we fail to apply good sylvicultural practices of removal of dead stands and replanting for mitigation.

        I should add that I’d be the first to call for the raising of US silvicultural practices, which have been so distorted by extractive short term commercial pressures as to warrant some other title than ‘forestry’. The latter is an ancient, noble and utterly sustainable art that is still practiced in various other nations – (and maybe in some enclaves in the US). I guess you’d enjoy traveling to experience some of the great examples of real forestry around the world.

        Regards,

        Lewis

  11. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Joe – there are some things, such as the exceptional employment prospects per dollar of forest restoration investment, that I’m pretty sure you’ll aim to unload, so, to be any use, here are some other points that you might consider voicing.

    - The impact of cryosphere decline on the Jet Stream, demonstrably raising its tendency to block and greatly prolong severe weathers – and that we have around 40 years of warming ‘in the pipeline’. – We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. . .

    - The feedback loop of wildfires emitting GHGs, raising warming, desiccating more forest-lands, setting more wildfires emitting GHGs . . .

    - The weakness of the largely unquestioned assumptions that the US won’t be as hard hit by climate destabilization as developing nations, given both the ongoing disruption of the Jet Stream over Europe, Russia and N America, and also the fact that the full replacement of infrastructure lost at US weather impact sites depends in practice on sufficient economic growth to justify the investment – viz New Orleans’ rotting suburbs . . . .

    - The serious need of funding for good forestry practice in thinning over-dense stands of forestry and clearing beetle-killed stands to reduce the number and intensity of wildfires also offers significant local enterprise and employment prospects. If the thinnings are just piled for wasteful controlled burns or rotting down their carbon is released as GHGs, but if it’s used locally for charcoal production as a soil enhancer it can raise both soil fertility and soil moisture management, and sequester much of the carbon in the soil, and benefit the local economy: a win-win-win proposition. It may also help to defray forestry-thinning costs somewhat.

    - Finally, two points of language -

    “While it is true that no single extreme weather event can be attributed solely to climate destabilization . . . . ”

    and -

    “While the profiteering corruption that is the anti-science warming-denial industry tries to ignore the worsening reality of the climate issue, those ordinary people who’ve previously put increasingly weird weather down to being ‘just flukes’, and could thus courteously be referenced as ‘flukers’, are now increasingly recognizing the growing volatility of weather patterns and accepting the long-researched scientific explanation, as recent polls are showing . . . ”

    All the best,

    Lewis

    -

    • DRT says:

      Slightly off topic here, but with regards to:
      “If the thinnings are just piled for wasteful controlled burns or rotting down their carbon is released as GHGs, but if it’s used locally for charcoal production as a soil enhancer it can raise both soil fertility and soil moisture management, and sequester much of the carbon in the soil, and benefit the local economy: a win-win-win proposition. It may also help to defray forestry-thinning costs somewhat.”

      Consider also using the ‘wood gas’ from the pyrolysis process for charcoal (bio-char) production to power the equipment needed for the forestry work.

      • Lewis Cleverdon says:

        DRT – I’d well agree that the woodgas coproduct from charcoal production is a valuable energy resource – it holds about 28% of the feedstock wood’s potential energy even on an efficient converter.

        Yet it would be difficult to use directly for fuelling even stationary forestry gear owing to its impurities and condensates. It can of course be done, but not at more than 15 to 20% energy efficiency, with laborious maintenance issues.

        A better option is to set a small methanol still alongside the charcoal retort to make use of the woodgas. Methanol is of course readily usable in internal and external combustion engines, and gas turbines, and even Direct Methanol Fuel Cells.

        We had a village-scale methanol plant operating until the mid’70s at Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean near here, served by widespread beautiful Chestnut coppices. Such plants were once pretty common across Europe. the sooner we re-establish them the better !

        Regards,

        Lewis

        • DRT says:

          Thanks Lewis, I can imagine a kind of semi-self contained kit with the retort, the still, a small saw mill, etc., assembled on flat beds or other trucks, which could be hauled in to spots with climate killed trees, so as to process the wood in the least GHG contributing manner.

  12. crunchy says:

    Please put in a word for us bark beetles. We get a very bad press.