Court won't overturn Clinton logging ban - Appeals judges refuse to reconsider roadless decision

Associated Press
The Spokesman-Review

April 9, 2003

BOISE, IDAHO- The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals won't reconsider its December decision upholding the Clinton administration's roadless rule that banned logging and road construction on a third of federal forests.

The San Francisco-based court refused Idaho's petition to submit the ruling of a three-judge panel to the full court.

The denial was issued last Friday without comment.

Bob Cooper, spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, said he has not received the order. He said he would have to discuss the case with the state Land Board before a decision is made to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since the decision, the Bush administration has begun drafting new regulations to replace of the Clinton rule that was stopped by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge when the state of Idaho, the Kootenai Indian tribe, among others, sued.

The administrative rule banned road building or other development in federal roadless parcels of 5,000 acres or more -- 2 percent of the nation's land mass. The Idaho judge said it was hurried through the administrative process without informed debate.

When the Bush administration declined to appeal, environmental groups did and won last December's order lifting Lodge's injunction.

"It doesn't change anything for sure," Idaho Conservation League Director Rick Johnson said. "But it does nail down the process. To make a new rule they're going to have to follow the process."

The Bush administration has already called for speeding up environmental reviews for forest thinning to reduce the threat of wildfires.

The original three-judge appellate panel split on Lodge's decision. The two-judge majority held that the logging industry and snowmobile groups were not irreparably harmed by the rules.


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