“We have roadless rules so that teams can’t even get up there to clear out dead trees and what would be fuel for these fires,” said Amy Oliver Cooke, director of the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute. “If you’re going to allow these forests to become so overgrown, then guess what: You’re going to have lightning strikes that result in these wildfires.”
Congress tackled the forest-management problem after the destructive 2002 wildfire season by passing the Healthy Forests Initiative, which fast-tracked the clearing of dead and beetle-kill trees.
In 2007, however, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in reaction to a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club that part of the law allowing exceptions from environmental studies for smaller timber sales violated the National Environmental Policy Act.
Environmental advocates have argued that the beetle infestations killing many stands of forest are also a result of hotter temperatures, and that the problem with out-of-control wildfires cannot be solved without reducing carbon emissions.
The debate played out Monday on Twitter through messages linking the Arizona wildfire to climate change. “19 fire-fighters perish in #Arizonafires This is a terrible tragedy. We need to take #extremeweather #climatechange really seriously!” said a tweet by Lyn Bender.
Talk show host Joe Pags of WOAI-AM in San Antonio responded by calling the writers of such messages “disturbed.”
“Even though the entire theory has been debunked and the world is actually in a cycle of cooling right now, they take any and all opportunities to push their agenda no matter who it disrespects or hurts. Sick!” Mr. Pags said.