DATE: May 21, 2002
BACKGROUND: Half of all Senate Democrats recently signed a letter to President Bush accusing him of failing to uphold the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. They claimed in their letter that this so-called "Roadless Plan" was the product of years of deliberation and input from 1.6 million people.
In fact, however, the Roadless Plan was developed in less than a year, almost entirely in secret, by a coalition of environmental groups, financed by the Pew Foundation via the Audubon Society, known as the Heritage Forests Campaign.
Partially as a result of this, Idaho U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge issued a temporary restraining order on May 10, 2001 prohibiting the Forest Service from implementing the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. In doing so, he said, "the court conclusively finds that the comment period was grossly inadequate and thus deprived the public of any meaningful dialogue or input in to the process."
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: President Bush did not fail to uphold the Roadless Rule. It was the illegal way the Clinton Administration developed it that caused the judge to put it on hold.
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: In reality, the Roadless Rule was initiated and developed in less than a year by the Heritage Forests Campaign. An investigation by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health showed that during that time the Forest Service and Clinton White House met secretly with the members of the Campaign to develop a Roadless Rule that was to the Campaign's liking. The judge was not only right to issue the injunction against it, he did so for all the right reasons.
DISCUSSION: From January 1999, right up to the time
of President Clinton's 2000 State of the Union Address, the Heritage
Forest Campaign worked with then Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck
and Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
George Frampton, as well as others in the Clinton Administration
to circumvent the normal rulemaking process. This meant there
was less than a year left for public comment before the end of
Clinton's term. Therefore, the judge had no choice to set the
rule aside and the Bush Administration had no choice but to begin
the process of developing alternative forest management plans.
An article on Judge Lodge's opinion can be found at http://ens.lycos.com/ens/may2001/2001L-05-11-06.html.
by Tom Randall, Director
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or TRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613