The Corner

Rats and Fires

Environmental litigation and regulation that inhibits forest clearing contributes to the accumulation of fuel in the national forests. That’s part of the justification for the Bush Administration’s Healthy Forest Initiative. There is also reason to suspect that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) inhibits precautionary measures in fire prone areas. This undoubtedly happened in Riverside County in the mid-1990s, when landowners were barred from clearing effective firebreaks by the Fish & Wildlife Service. Subsequently, many homes in the affected area burned. Are we seeing a repeat of this with the San Diego fires? Hugh Hewitt thinks so, and notes that massive fires aren’t any better for endangered species than they are for people.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

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