DATE: July 25, 2002
BACKGROUND: Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John
Warner (R-VA) reportedly plan to introduce legislation to implement
the Roadless Area Conservation Rule developed under the Clinton
Administration. The Rule would close 58.5 million acres of public
land to road building, thereby denying access to these areas to
nearly all Americans. Proponents of the rule claim it was the
product of years of deliberation and input from 1.6 million people.
In fact, however, the plan was developed in less than a year
and almost entirely in secret by a coalition of environment groups,
known as the Heritage Forests Campaign, financed by the Pew Foundation
via the Audubon Society.
Idaho U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge issued a temporary restraining
order on May 10, 2001 prohibiting the U.S. Forest Service from
implementing the roadless rule. He said, "the court conclusively
finds that the comment period was grossly inadequate and thus
deprived the public of any meaningful dialogue or input into the
process." The Forest Service is in the process of developing
alternative forest management plans.
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: In the midst of one of the worst
wildfire seasons, it's ludicrous that some senators want to ban
roads that could help firefighters put out fires.
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Judge Lodge was correct to delay
a rule that was hastily and secretly formulated. Isn't it elitist
for some senators to want to ban roads in forests that allow firefighters
more access while Majority Leader Daschle wants exemptions from
environmental laws and lawsuits exclusively for his home state?
DISCUSSION: A similar bill, HR. 4865, was introduced
in June in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Jay Inslee
(D-WA) and Chris Shays (R-CT). It has 178 co-sponsors.
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 the 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 Gretchen 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 GRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613