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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

May 24, 2001


9th Circuit: Expedited Appeal, but Where's Bush?
ENERGY: Forests are Open for Business
IN THE STATES: Public Lands, Liars, and Lawsuits
THE NEXT BIG DAY: New Process to Begin in June

9th Circuit: Expedited Appeal, but Where's Bush?

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit granted an expedited appeal of Judge Lodge's recent preliminary injunction barring the Forest Service from implementing the overwhelmingly popular forest conservation policy, commonly known as the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The decision to expedite the appeal is significant because it could lead to a reversal of the preliminary injunction, allowing the rule to take effect as early as July. (Reuters News Service, May 23, 2001)

ENERGY: Forests are Open for Business

First they were courted by the timber industry, and now it appears that the Bush administration is being seduced by the oil and gas industry on protection of roadless areas.

"The areas industry would like to see opened for drilling include national forest roadless areas"
(Michael Davis, The Houston Chronicle, May 21, 2001)

And the Denver Post reported on Wednesday, "Oil and gas executives are lobbying for access to restricted lands in the Rocky Mountains to help them increase the nation's petroleum supply. But when they got to Congress on Tuesday, there was little they were asking for that President Bush hadn't already given them."
(Mike Soraghan, Denver Post, May 23, 2001)

On Friday, the Bush administration announced that the energy policy will affect implementation of the forest conservation policy despite overwhelming public opinion in favor of conservation. Secretary Veneman said, "Sobviously the issues of energy would be reviewed in the context of the forest plans."
(Reuters News Service, May 18, 2001)

Despite earlier promises to uphold "roadless values," the Bush administration announced that it will roll back protections of public lands to give the mining, oil, and gas industries a blank check to exploit America's pristine public lands, including National Forests. The Bush energy plan calls for a review of "land status and lease stipulation impediments to federal oil and gas leasing, and [to] review and modify those where opportunities exist."
(National Energy Policy, Chapter 5, page 7, May 2001)

IN THE STATES: Public Lands, Liars, and Lawsuits

Governor Judy Martz (R-Mont.) was accused of lying when she told President Bush in a letter that state-owned lands would be inaccessible under the forest conservation policy. A state report contradicts her contention, saying that roadless areas would surround only 1,320 acres of state land.
(Associated Press, published in The Billings Gazette, May 23, 2001)

On Friday, Governor Jim Geringer (R- Wyo.) filed a lawsuit to prevent implementation of the forest conservation policy alleging that the state will be denied access to state lands.
(Associated Press Newswires, May 19, 2001)

But in fact, the forest conservation policy already allows exceptions to allow access to private leases and state or tribal lands.
(66 Fed. Reg. 3253, 3255) www.roadless.fs.fed.us

THE NEXT BIG DAY: New Process to Begin in June

Environmentalists and citizens are gearing up for a new comment period, even though they already submitted a record-breaking 1.6 million comments during the original rulemaking process.

Despite the historic number of comments, more than three years of study, and 600 public meetings, the Bush administration decided to propose "amendments in early June" that could severely weaken the national forest conservation policy in the name of "local control."
USDA Press Release

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Contact: Tony Iallonardo, NET
(202) 887-8855

The Heritage Forests Campaign is an alliance of conservationists, wildlife advocates, clergy, educators, scientists, and other Americans working together to uphold protection of our National Forests. Heritage Forests Campaign's partners include Alaska Rainforest Coalition, American Hiking Society, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, National Environmental Trust, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, US PIRG, and The Wilderness Society.

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