Judge blocks road ban

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#1
Federal Judge Blocks Road Ban

By KATHERINE PFLEGER
.c The Associated Press


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's 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 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.''

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

The state of Idaho and timber giant Boise Cascade 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.''

Environmentalists 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.''

Meanwhile, the timber industry, which had lobbied against the rule, 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 American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group based in Portland, Ore.

The vast majority of roadless federal forests 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.

AP-NY-05-10-01 1619EDT

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
 
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#3
Judge Lodge is in the Ninth Circuit, I believe. A very liberal circuit. Overruled by the Supreme Court more than any other circuit. So there is a good shot this will be overturned on appeal. On the other hand -- that could lead to the Supremes. ;)
 

70 marlin

Mi. Trail Riders
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#4
beat me to it.

good news , at least for the time being.