Legal actions by the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of the Department of Agriculture seem at odds with President Obama's support for the Clinton-era Roadless Rule
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Attorney General John Kroger announced today that they had sent letters urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue a legal strategy that supports the Clinton-era Roadless Rule to protect pristine wilderness areas.
"The Roadless Rule provides important protections to special places across our country," Governor Ted Kulongoski said. "I hope we can end this cycle of litigation and implement the Clinton Roadless Rule as originally intended and applied nationwide."
"President Obama campaigned against the Bush Administration's attempts to undermine the Roadless Rule," added Attorney General Kroger. "I am urging U.S. Attorney General Holder to follow through in court."
In California v. USDA, four western states, including Oregon, sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect roadless areas in our national forests. A federal district court set aside the improper Bush-era rule and reinstated the Roadless Rule. The USDA appealed. After Obama took office, the new administration did not withdraw the appeal, despite the President's support for the Roadless Rule.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision. Kroger notes in his letter that the Department of Justice may ask the 9th Circuit to narrow the geographic scope of the injunction that reinstated the Roadless Rule.
"I hope that this is not true," Kroger wrote.
Instead, Kroger wrote, the U.S. Department of Justice should appeal the Roadless Rule decision by a Wyoming-based federal judge who ruled in favor of the Bush-era rule and issued an order enjoining the Roadless Rule on a nationwide basis.
U.S. DOJ attorneys have asked the judge in that case to reconsider his ruling or limit the injunction, but he refused.
"I urge the Government to continue its efforts to address the Wyoming injunction, rather than seek to limit the injunction in the Ninth Circuit case, which the Government should support," Kroger wrote. "The Roadless Rule provides important protections to many of the country's last wild places. I look forward to the Administration's strong support of these special places."
Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor’s Office Contact: Anna Richter Taylor, 503-378-6169 email@example.com