21 May 2002 Tom Daschle and Senate Democrats Attack Bush Administration for Reassessing the Secretly-Developed Clinton Rule to Halt Forest Road Building, by Tom Randall
BACKGROUND: Half of all Senate Democrats recently signed a letter to President Bush accusing him of failing to uphold the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. They claimed in their letter that this so-called “Roadless Plan” was the product of years of deliberation and input from 1.6 million people.
In fact, however, the Roadless Plan was developed in less than a year, almost entirely in secret, by a coalition of environmental groups, financed by the Pew Foundation via the Audubon Society, known as the Heritage Forests Campaign.
Partially as a result of this, Idaho U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge issued a temporary restraining order on May 10, 2001 prohibiting the Forest Service from implementing the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. In doing so, he said, “the court conclusively finds that the comment period was grossly inadequate and thus deprived the public of any meaningful dialogue or input in to the process.”
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: President Bush did not fail to uphold the Roadless Rule. It was the illegal way the Clinton Administration developed it that caused the judge to put it on hold.
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: In reality, the Roadless Rule was initiated and developed in less than a year by the Heritage Forests Campaign. An investigation by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health showed that during that time the Forest Service and Clinton White House met secretly with the members of the Campaign to develop a Roadless Rule that was to the Campaign’s liking. The judge was not only right to issue the injunction against it, he did so for all the right reasons.
DISCUSSION: From January 1999, right up to the time of President Clinton’s 2000 State of the Union Address, the Heritage Forest Campaign worked with then Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck and Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality George Frampton, as well as others in the Clinton Administration to circumvent the normal rulemaking process. This meant there was less than a year left for public comment before the end of Clinton’s term. Therefore, the judge had no choice to set the rule aside and the Bush Administration had no choice but to begin the process of developing alternative forest management plans. An article on Judge Lodge’s opinion can be found at http://ens.lycos.com/ens/may2001/2001L-05-11-06.html.