| Matthew Koehler has several times brought attention to this Martin Nie write-up on Jon Tester's forest bill. I got a chance to read about 2/3 of Nie's piece the other day and highly recommend it.
There seems to be a sense in comments that I think questioning this bill or its content is unacceptable. For the record, that's absolutely false. My impression is that it is completely untrue from Jon's perspective as well (although I haven't spoken with him about this).
Reality is that Nie's approach is super academic and, maybe as a result, non-confrontational. Nie also has the sense to note that Jon's approach here is groundbreaking not just in ways that deserve questioning and critical thoughtfulness but in ways that create large-scale opportunities.
What I like about Jon's bill, what I've liked from the beginning, is that it is place-based, that it is collaborative. For others, that's been a primary bone of contention, that forest policy should be driven primarily by bureaucrats and science. I think our current systems for land management in the West are fairly broken and that our democracy has been suffering as a result.
But let me also say this, I've heard from enough skeptics of this bill to be glad that Jon's hitting the road, going to Troy, going to Dillon, going to Bozeman, and, presumably, going to more towns and taking feedback. There is work to be done on this bill (and, fortunately, a lengthy process known as Congress making decisions that will allow for serious consideration).
As far as I can tell, the most vocal critics of this bill has decided to lock themselves outside of the process and then refer to it as closed off. They've made unprecedented demands, like asking for legislation before it had been written. And once the first draft of the bill was released, declared the process a sham.
Anyways, read Nie. He knows a lot about forest policy and he asks some good questions. And he rightly concludes:
The above questions are not driven by politics. Nor are they asked with the purpose of trying to defeat the Senator's bill or to criticize his courageous entry into Montana wilderness politics. They are meant instead to get the public thinking about the big picture and how the parts are going to fit or not fit together. The stakes are high. If the FJRA becomes law, place-based proposals throughout the West will take a big step forward. The FJRA would be the first one out of the gate, setting precedent for others, and this is reason enough why it must be scrutinized so carefully.For critics who have questioned Jon's ethics on this matter to claim political cover from an expert who refers to bill as "courageous" and specifically notes that it is not his desire (at least yet) "to defeat the Senator's bill," I think it is dishonest.
Enjoy your weekend -- I might see y'all at the homecoming parade or game tomorrow.