To the surprise of absolutely no one, Judge Clarence Brimmer of the federal district court in Wyoming last week declared illegal the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, adopted in the waning hours of the Clinton administration. The judge had blocked the rule five years ago, but a ruling from a federal judge in California two years ago had blocked a substitute rule put forward by the Bush administration and reinstated the Clinton rule.
Brimmer’s 100-page ruling heaped scorn on both President Clinton and Judge Elizabeth Laporte, the San Francisco judge who reinstated the Clinton rule.
Brimmer’s antipathy toward anything to do with the Clinton administration is legendary, and he did not shy away from it last week: "The Forest Service, in an attempt to bolster an outgoing President’s environmental legacy, rammed through an environmental agenda that itself violates the country’s well-established environmental laws," he wrote.
Earthjustice attorneys, who represent the environmental groups that intervened in the case to defend the Clinton rule, immediately notified the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that they will appeal, and that they will seek a stay of Brimmer’s injunction while the appeal is playing out. Judge Laporte’s injunction blocking the Bush substitute rule is also on appeal, in this case to the Ninth Circuit.
This is way too complicated for a short item like this one. In fact, I’ve written a whole book on the subject, to be published by Island Press next spring. Stay tuned.