May 10, 2001
Roadless Rule Overturned Due to Bush Administration Failure to Defend It in Court
An Idaho Federal District Judge Edward Lodge has placed an injunction on the Roadless Area Conservation Rule to prevent it from going into effect this Saturday. Conservationists will be appealing this decision and are confident that today's preliminary decision will be reversed.
Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society has reviewed the situation and concluded that President Bush clearly bears responsibility for today's decision. Throughout the case to date, the Bush administration has made no effort to defend the legal merits of the rule, leaving the defense entirely to the environmental intervenors.
Further, the court determined that implementation of the Roadless Rule was likely to cause harm largely on the basis of the Bush administration's plan to amend the Roadless Rule. The government's May 4 status report to the court stated that "the USDA shares plaintiffs' concerns about the potential for irreparable harm in the long-term under the current Rule." Judge Lodge interpreted that statement as an admission of the need for an injunction: "Here, the Federal Government has conceded that without the proposed rulemaking amending the Roadless Rule there is a potential for long-term irreparable harm."
The legal effect of the preliminary injunction is to prevent the prohibitions on road building and logging in the Roadless Rule from taking effect until the court makes a final decision in the case, which is probably several months away. The preliminary injunction does not prevent the Bush administration from going ahead with its plan to amend the Roadless Rule starting in June.
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