Alaska Challenges Roadless Rule in the United States Supreme Court
October 13, 2015
The State of Alaska has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena striking down a rule that exempted the Tongass National Forest from the prohibitions of the so-called Roadless Rule.
The Roadless Rule, adopted in the last days of the Clinton Administration, banned logging and road construction in roadless areas of all national forests. Later, the Bush administration decided to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule due to concern about the socioeconomic impacts the rule’s prohibitions would inflict on the small communities of Southeast Alaska. A coalition of environmental and tribal groups challenged the exemption in federal court. In a sharply divided decision, the Ninth Circuit struck down the exemption, ruling that the Bush administration had not offered sufficient justification for changing course. The dissenting judges argued that the agency had offered good reasons for changing course and that the majority had improperly substituted its policy preferences for those of the agency.
The petition argues that the Ninth Circuit violated a basic principle of administrative law in ruling that the new administration’s different political values and policy priorities were not a sufficient justification for changing the policies of the previous administration.
Reversing the Ninth Circuit and reinstating the Tongass Exemption will give a lifeline to the struggling timber industry and allow Southeast to harness its abundant hydropower, geothermal, and mineral resources. For more information please contact Dario Borghesan at (907) 269-5100.
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