Posts tagged: Roadless Rule

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Roadless Rule


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
10 December 2009, 4:40 PM
Copenhagen, the Chukchi Sea, Clean Air, Trees

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

The Copenhagen conference started off with a bang of optimism when the EPA announced that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health. The cooperative spirit quickly fizzled after a draft agreement surfaced that apparently favors the interests of the U.S. and other wealthy nations. There’s more news by the hour: Be sure to check out our daily reports from Copenhagen, and analysis by two attending Earthjustice attorneys, Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner.

All the buzz from the conference nearly drowned out a disturbing, and related, piece of news: Shell Oil was granted conditional approval to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea. Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe warned that the approvals outpace the science of what we know about Arctic waters.

On the same day that the EPA released its endangerment finding, Earthjustice challenged the agency on a toxin polluting the air in Appalachia, to the point where kids can’t play outside. It’s coal dust, and we think the coal plants that produce it should do something about it. 

Farm workers and their families will get some long-awaited help to deal with toxic pesticides poisoning the air around their homes and schools, thanks to a new EPA policy. Going forward, the EPA will assess the health risks posed by pesticide drift with the same standards by which pesticides in food are assessed. 

And finally, this week Earthjustice saved taxpayers $1.5 million!and 4.3 million board-feet of old-growth forest in the Tongass to boot. This also means we kept a little C02 out of the atmosphere. Indeed, one of the least controversial ideas out of Copenhagen is also one of the simplest: don’t cut down trees.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 October 2009, 11:42 AM
Obama administration must stop proposed logging of old-growth stands
Advertisement in Washington, D.C. publications

Regional officials with Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the crown jewel of our national forest system, recently announced plans to log nearly 1,500 acres of old-growth forest in two roadless areas. The Central Kupreanof and Sue timber sales jeopardize intact blocks of old-growth habitat within one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in the world.

The logging projects contradict President Barack Obama's pledge, made as a presidential candidate, to support full protection of 58.5 million acres of our nation's roadless forests, which include 9.5 million acres in the Tongass. These roadless areas are some of our nation's last truly wild places.

Fortunately, the administration now has a tremendous opportunity to make good on Obama's promise. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has taken on the responsibility of personally reviewing all proposed timber sales in roadless areas and can stop these projects with a pen stroke. In addition to blocking these timber sales, Sec. Vilsack needs to restore full protections to the Tongass under the Roadless Rule, because only then will old-growth stands in the Tongass truly be safe. Earthjustice and other groups are asking Sec. Vilsack to do exactly that in an ad that started running today in some Washington, D.C. publications.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
19 August 2009, 4:24 PM
Earthjustice president sees firsthand environmental bests and worsts
Wind power parts enroute

What does it take to peel back the abstractions of email, press reports, and legal briefs and really see some of what is at stake in Earthjustice's work? It's as easy as getting away from the computer, out of airports, and off the interstate.

Over the last couple of weeks I was lucky enough to travel across the Great Plains and the Rockies. Everywhere I went, I saw our country wrestling with the big challenges of energy supply and climate change, biodiversity and wildlands protection, and the human consequences of poorly enforced environmental standards.

Signs of change in our energy economy are everywhere. Across Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, I kept running into wide-load 18 wheelers hauling giant pieces of wind towers to the sites of new wind farms. One of the truck drivers told me that the towers were made in Texas. Some of the small towns practically had to shut down their main streets to let the rigs through.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
19 August 2009, 9:42 AM
Obama and the courts back roadless areas. Mostly.
Roadless area in Wyoming's Beartooth Plateau. Photo: Nelson Guda, 2009

We've seen considerable activity concerning national forest roadless areas in the past few weeks in case you missed it—most of it welcome.

Early this month, the federal appeals court upheld a district court ruling that found that the rule the Bush administration cooked up to replace the 2001 Roadless Rule was illegal, and therefore reinstated the 2001 rule. (The Bush rule invited governors to suggest how national forests in their states should be run. The 2001 rule forbids most road building and logging in roadless areas in national forests.)

Shortly thereafter, the Forest Service, under President Obama and Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, announced that it will appeal a ruling out of Wyoming, where a cantankerous federal judge found the 2001 rule illegal. Twice. Earthjustice has appealed that ruling, and now we're joined by the administration.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
06 August 2009, 3:59 PM
Everyone wants credit for the roadless victory
Photo: John McCarthy/TWS

It's a given that when something momentous happens, something good, that is, that the group of people claiming credit for the outcome will be rather large. So it is with the recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finding the Bush Roadless Repeal Rule illegal and reinstating the original Roadless Rule nationwide. And, to be sure, there's plenty of credit to go around—to the Heritage Forests Campaign, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and many others.

Mostly, however, credit and praise go to the doughty band of Earthjustice attorneys who have fought to defend the rule for the past eight years, along with Marty Hayden, the VP for Policy and Legislation, who helped in the creation of the rule long before it got to court. The attorneys, who deserve a place in someone's hall of fame, are Kristen Boyles, Tim Preso, Jim Angell, Tom Waldo, Doug Honnold, Todd True, Greg Loarie, and Patti Goldman. Another, who worked for Earthjustice in the 1990s, is Claudia Polsky, who argued on behalf of the states of California, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico from her position in the California attorney general's office. Also Niel Lawrence of NRDC and Pat Parenteau of the Vermont Law School. Thanks and congratulations all around.

Oh wait. Never mind. Here's the guy who deserves all the credit.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
05 August 2009, 2:25 PM
Another (welcome) twist in the Roadless saga
Patrick’s Knob roadless area in Montana’s Coeur D’Alene Mountains. (Credit: © Terry Glase)

When we last visited this story, the original Roadless Rule, issued at the tail end of the Clinton administration, seemed to be in effect in some parts of the country, not in others, and the court ruling that reimposed it was still under legal challenge by the Forest Service.

The situation was clarified to a great degree today, with a unanimous ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a lower court ruling, which had found a substitute rule put forward by the Bush administration illegal and reinstated the original rule throughout the country except for Alaska and Idaho.

This is tremendous news, and should be a powerful encouragement to the new administration to do whatever is necessary to protect roadless areas throughout the land.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
08 July 2009, 3:41 PM
 

As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to "uphold and defend" the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which set out to protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forest lands across the country. Not long ago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has responsibility for the Forest Service among many things, announced that he will personally review any projects proposed in roadless areas. This move was labelled a year-long "time out" for road building and logging by some in the media, but in fact, there's no guarantee.

With an eye toward nudging the president to a more bold and forthright act, five conservation organizations are launching a major ad campaign aimed directly at the president.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
26 June 2009, 4:54 PM
 

The Alabama-based environmental law firm Wildlaw has just announced the hiring of Mark Rey as a part-time lobbyist to work on national forest restoration projects in the Southeast and to help with land acquisition efforts.

Here's a little backstory. Wildlaw is headed by an attorney named Ray Vaughan, and it has done much good work in the Southeast defending national forests and scarce species and waterways and other resources. Mark Rey was the Under Secretary of Agriculture overseeing the national forests under George W. Bush, and a more reviled figure among environmental activists would be hard to find.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
27 May 2009, 5:08 PM
 

Road construction in national forests can harm fish and wildlife habitats while polluting local lakes, rivers, and streams. The Roadless Area Conservation Rule—which was made on the basis of extensive citizen input—protects 58.5 million acres of national forest from such harmful building. I will be proud to support and defend it.

—Senator Barack Obama, 2008

Both as a senator and as a candidate for the White House, President Obama was forthright in his support for the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forest lands.

The rule was established by President Bill Clinton in 2001, but severely undercut by the Bush administration—freezing its implementation, not defending it against industry court challenges, finally effectively repealing it by making it a state-by-state option that left roadless areas vulnerable to local political pressure.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
15 May 2009, 11:25 AM
 

Last November, as Barack Obama won the election, we recommended a list of "easy things" the new president could immediately do to cement his promises about being a pro-environment president. This is our second update on how he's doing.

The new president's greatest achievement clearly is the abrupt reversal of the Bush-era philosophy favoring those who devour our natural resources for short term gain. He also has taken major steps towards restoring integrity to our regulatory agencies, potency to our environmental laws, and respect internationally for our country's leadership.

Nonetheless, the administration has taken some actions—for example, the delisting of northern gray wolves—that are deeply disappointing. Some of the administration actions, notably with regard to mountaintop removal mining, fall short of being complete solutions. Likewise, there remain significant environmental challenges yet to be addressed.