Environment| Opinion

Editorial: Burning on Coeur d'Alene Reservation



"Supporters of bluegrass-field burning in Idaho called it exploration of a legal loophole.

Opponents of the summer ritual had a different take on last week's federal appeals court ruling.

The two distinctly different interpretations of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' unanimous ruling fit perfectly on both sides of the battle line drawn years ago by proponents and opponents of the practice, which involves farmers burning the stubble off bluegrass fields after harvest. That process provides strong economic incentive for grass farmers to continue growing bluegrass, but it also fills the skies with dark, unhealthy smoke on burn days.

We think it's too early to tell exactly what impact the 9th Circuit Court's ruling will have. The court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its authorization of agricultural field burning in Idaho, yet at the same time allowed field burning to continue while the EPA studies its health effects.

We don't think it's too early, though, to encourage the Coeur d'Alene Tribe to take a leadership role in this ongoing debate.

Because it's a sovereign nation, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe does not have to abide by Idaho's rules. While the EPA rolls up its sleeves and more closely examines the consequences of field burning, we ask the tribe to step up and phase out burning on its lands as expeditiously as possible."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Tribe can lead on this hot issue (The Bonner County Daily Bee 2/4)

Field Burning Decision:
Safe Air for Everyone v. EPA (January 30, 2007)

Relevant Links:
Coeur D'Alene Tribe - http://www.cdatribe-nsn.gov

Related Stories:
Idaho tribe extends field burning (9/27)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe changes burning policy (8/31)
Tribe's fires raise EPA concern (9/29)