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WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge in Idaho blocked a ban on
road building in a third of America's national forests, saying the Clinton
administration rule needed to be amended or it would cause
``irreparable harm.''

The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge came
less than a week after the Bush administration said it would allow the
rule to take effect this Saturday while work continued on revisions to
allow more local input.

Lodge labeled the Bush plan a ``Band-Aid approach'' and said allowing
the rule to take effect ``ignores the reality ... that once something of this
magnitude is set in motion, momentum is irresistible, options are closed
and agency commitments, if not set in concrete, will be the subject of
litigation for years to come.''

However, in issuing a preliminary injunction stalling the ban, Lodge
encouraged the Bush administration to continue moving ahead with its
study of possible revisions ``because the ultimate responsibility lies with
the government and/or its agencies and not with the court.''

One of President Clinton (news - web sites)'s key environmental
legacies, the rule would prevent logging, road construction and other
activities on 58.5 million acres of federal forests, an area more than
twice the size of Ohio.

The ban was praised by environmentalists as a way to protect the
nation's most pristine forest lands from developers and preserve critical
wildlife habitats. Opponents, including the timber and mining industries,
say the rules needlessly place valuable resources off-limits.

The state of Idaho, timber giant Boise Cascade and a variety of groups
representing farmers, snowmobilers and others had filed a lawsuit asking
Lodge to block the rule. In his decision issued in Boise, the judge said
he agreed with their arguments that allowing the rule to take effect
``poses serious risks of irreparable harm.''

The Justice Department (news - web sites) is reviewing the order and
has not made a decision yet on how to proceed, spokeswoman Cristine
Romano said. The department could accept the order or appeal it within
two months to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (news - web
sites).

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, who oversees the Forest Service,
said the department will move ahead with an effort to revise the policy
and find a ``responsible process'' that protects roadless areas.

Boise Cascade spokesman Mike Moser said the company maintained
all along that ``the roadless rule was predetermined and one-sided and
failed to consider the long-term consequences for managing the health of
the national forests.''

The company and state also said the Forest Service didn't follow proper
procedures when it made the rule.

Idaho Attorney General Al Lance praised Lodge's ruling, which he said
shouldn't be construed as anti-environment.

``There are no bulldozers idling at the forests' edge. Blocking this illegal
rule will not force anyone to build a road,'' he said.

Environmentalists say they plan to appeal the decision, which they
blamed in part on the Bush administration's failure to vigorously defend
the rule in court.

``We will be glad to fight it in the courts,'' said Doug Honnold, attorney
for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, which represented conservation
groups that intervened in the suit. ``We think it is a decision that is
inconsistent with environmental rules.''

The timber industry praised the decision.

``It's what we said all along, that it was clearly illegal and it is now time
for the administration to move on,'' said Chris West, vice president of
the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group based
in Portland, Ore.

The Clinton administration began creating the rule about three years ago,
but did not issue them until two weeks before President Clinton left
office. The rule was supposed to take effect in March but the Bush
administration delayed implementation until May 12 while it conducted a
review.

Western Republicans, including Colorado Rep. Scott McInnis (news -
bio - voting record) and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig (news - bio - voting
record), both chairmen of forest subcommittees, argued during the rule's
creation that it would amount to a sweeping mandate from Washington
that didn't take into account the conditions of each forest. Craig
applauded Lodge's decision.

``In issuing the preliminary injunction, he saw this rule is a flawed rule
and a flawed process,'' Craig said.

The vast majority of federal forests areas that would have been roped
off by the ban are in the West, including parts of Idaho's Bitterroot
range and Alaska's Tongass, viewed by environmentalists as North
America's rain forest. Smaller sections are scattered across the country
from Florida's Apalachicola National Forest and Virginia's George
Washington National Forest to New Hampshire's White Mountains.
 

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<IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce2.gif" border="0"> It is a start, I wish there where more judges like that. as far as the enviros are concerned quit <IMG SRC="smilies/crybaby2.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/crybaby2.gif" border="0">
 

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Wow,
A judge with commen sense! <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">

<IMG SRC="smilies/flipoff.gif" border="0"> Clinton!
 

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1962 YellowSubmarine
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11,423 Posts
http://www2.state.id.us/ag/


*** FOR IMMEDIATE
RELEASE ***
Date: May
10, 2001
Contact:
Bob Cooper
(208)
334-4112

Idaho Wins Injunction Blocking Roadless Rule

(Boise) - The State of Idaho has obtained a
preliminary injunction blocking the federal government
from implementing the Clinton
roadless rule, Attorney General Al Lance said. U.S.
District Judge Edward J. Lodge issued the injunction
today in a lawsuit brought by
the State of Idaho charging that the rule was adopted
in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA).

"This is a victory for the public's right to
participate in governmental decision making," Attorney
General Al Lance said. "NEPA
guarantees this right and Judge Lodge has properly
enforced it. The injunction sends a message that the
end does not justify the means.
Public policy cannot be made through illegal means
just because somebody thinks the end result is a good
idea. It reinforces the principle
that we are a nation governed by law."

"It would be wrong to characterize the court's
decision as bad for the environment," Lance added.
"Even if the roadless rule is ultimately
overturned, nothing changes. There are no bulldozers
idling at the forests' edge. Blocking this illegal
rule will not force anyone to build a
road."

Lance said his office will proceed with the state's
lawsuit, filed on behalf of Governor Kempthorne and
the Idaho Land Board. The
Attorney General will file motions for summary
judgment and a permanent injunction within the next
few days.

At the same time, the Attorney General urged
interested parties to work toward long term resolution
of the roadless issue. "Certainly,
there are areas deserving additional protection. We
should now focus on the path forward," he said. "We
need to find a policy approach
which achieves the proper balance between the
economic, educational and recreational needs of our
citizens and the long-term
stewardship needs of our resources."

Lance said he is optimistic that President Bush,
Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and Forest
Service Chief Dale Bosworth will
continue with their efforts to work with the states,
localities and other interested parties to create a
meaningful process to resolve the
roadless lands issue. "The administration has
recognized the importance of state and local
participation in land management decisions,"
Lance said. "They are off to a good start."

The Attorney General also noted that today's decision
is likely to be criticized by environmental
organizations. "If there is a need to blame
someone for the demise of the roadless rule, then
blame it properly on its authors," Lance said. "It is
time for Mr. Lyons and Mr.
Dombeck to explain to their supporters precisely why
they jeopardized the rule by continuing the illegal
process. It is time for them to
explain why they ignored a crystal clear warning from
the court early last year. If they really cared about
protecting roadless areas, if they
really wanted the rule, all they had to do was follow
the law."
 

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1962 YellowSubmarine
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11,423 Posts
<font color="yellow">another article</font c>

From the Idaho Statesman-Journal:

Bush catches break in roadless forest dispute

A federal judge’s intervention gives the White House support for changing the rule.

MIKE MADDEN
Statesman Journal
May 14

WASHINGTON — Stuck between a flood of public support for a road building and logging ban in about a third of the national forests and a clamor of outrage from the timber industry, mining companies and Western conservatives, the Bush administration may have caught a lucky break last week.

Just days before the “roadless” policy — one of the boldest conservation measures in decades and one of Bill Clinton’s last acts as president — was to take effect, a federal judge in Boise, Idaho, blocked it, saying local views had been ignored and the plan could harm the 58.5 million acres of forests it was intended to protect.

That order may ease political pressures on Bush officials, who had pledged to support the popular rule, while complaining it was flawed so seriously that they would seek ways to make its restrictions more flexible, forest to forest.

“I think to some degree the administration can feel some relief, because they will then not take direct blame for failing to be fully supportive of the rule and to support its implementation,” said Jim Lyons, a former top Agriculture Department official who helped devise the Clinton initiative. “To some degree, throwing this to the courts provides the appearance that they wanted to make, that they support the rule even if they are going to seek changes to the rule.”

Even though U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge has blocked the rule for now, a lawsuit by timber companies and the state of Idaho seeking to have it thrown out still needs to go to trial and there will probably be an appeal, no matter which way Lodge decides the case.

That means the administration still is likely to propose changes to the rule next month — probably calling for each forest to individually review the restrictions, GOP lawmakers and forestry staffers say. But, Friday’s court order could provide political cover for whatever changes are made.

As the administration reviewed dozens of Clinton-era environmental regulations earlier this year, conservation groups mounted an enormous drive to keep the roadless plan in place. The rule may have been the most popular in the history of federal regulations, based on the 1.6 million comments that were generated, most of them favorable.

Supporters spent millions on ads calling on Bush to uphold the rule and touted polls showing wide majorities of voters liked the logging ban.

The administration had put itself into a delicate spot by deciding to keep the rule while moving toward changes on local forests. Environmentalists argued that changes would effectively undermine the ban and that if forest-level planning had protected roadless areas well enough in the first place, the rule would never have been needed.

Industry groups, which backed Bush heavily in last fall’s election, replied that the administration should never have defended the rule. They argue that its restrictions are too broad and could endanger forest health by limiting management that results in worse wildfires, for example.

Mining companies are also leery of the ban, saying roadless areas could have resources worthy of being explored. The Forest Service and the Department of Energy have estimated that about 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 550 million barrels of oil could lie in areas covered by the rule.

“We don’t think there’s a need for them to issue a rule,” said Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resources Council, a Portland, Ore.-based timber association. “It’s time for them to now establish their own forestry agenda. Quit trying to address leftovers from Clinton, and proceed with their own plan on how forests are to be managed.”

Given the judge’s ruling, the administration can point to that as proof the rule needs changing — especially when environmentalists argue that opening the rule up to local input again only will weaken the ban.

“Whatever criticism is lodged with the administration, obviously I think they’re big enough to take it,” said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on forests. “They’re going to correct a flawed process.”

Mike Madden can be reached at (703) 276-5806.
 
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