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Banning the White House Christmas Tree
The Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC) is a watchdog organization of outdoor enthusiasts. They describe themselves as "recreationists of all types, working together to preserve our precious natural heritage" with the goal of replacing "user conflict" with "user cooperation."

BRC's watchdog moto is "Preserving our natural resources FOR the public not FROM the public. Obviously an extremist group, BRC takes that radical view that everyone "must learn acceptance and good manners." Given their demands for tolerance and manners, Winston suspects that BRC's membership includes few political talk show hosts.

According to BRC, a federal District Court in California has "issued an Order banning the use of Categorical Exclusions (CEs)." CEs refer to "a category of actions that do not have a significant effect on the environment and therefore do not require an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)." CEs, which are allowed by NEPA, simplify but do not eliminate the paper paperwork for actions "that clearly do not have a significant effect on the environment."

Examples given by BRC of CE actions include mountain bike tours and group outings for organizations such as the Boy or Girl Scouts.

The Court ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental watchdog groups including theEarth Island Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club. A BRC official stated that "I think the green groups have gone too far... They seek to create a virtual Ďanalysis paralysis' in the Forest Service... Sadly, it is the responsible recreating public who will suffer...."

Programs that will be affected by the Court ruling could include the annual display by the White House of Christmas trees from each state. BRC explained that "Instead of approving such projects with a streamlined permit using CEs, the agency must now enact a lengthy 135 day notice, comment, and appeal process. It's not just the mom and pop recreation clubs that get hurt, but great American traditions like placing the Christmas tree on the White House lawn are affected as well."

With soaring budget deficits and overworked bureaucrats, Winston has to really wonder if the Court Order will lead to a more efficient use of federal resources, natural or otherwise.

  • Click here for Blue Ribbon Coalition homepage
  • Click here for BRC Christmas Tree Ban Press Release


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