The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its final word on the Roadless Rule, denying en banc rehearing in the matter this week; now it’s up to the Supreme Court to strike the Clinton-era law.
The Forest Service initially adopted the Interim Roadless Rule, an 18-month moratorium on road construction in most inventoried roadless areas (IRAs) in March 1999. The interim rule, which continued through August 2000, temporarily suspended decision-making regarding road construction and reconstruction in many unroaded areas within the National Forest System (NFS).
In October 1999, while the Interim Roadless Rule was in effect, President Bill Clinton "directed the Forest Service to develop ... regulations to provide appropriate long-term protection for most or all of these currently inventoried roadless areas" in the NFS. The Forest Service issued the final Roadless Rule in January 2001. The final version prohibits road construction and reconstruction in IRAs, and prohibits the cutting, sale, or removal of timber from IRAs, subject to limited exceptions.
A Wyoming federal court blocked enforcement of the rule after the State of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association challenged the law in 2008. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the Roadless Rule in October 2011.
In December, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead announced that the state had filed a petition for en banc rehearing before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. This week, that petition was denied, according to Earth Justice.
The petition for en banc rehearing was circled among the judges in regular active service on the court; no member of the panel and no judge in regular active service on the court requested that the court be polled, so the petition was not granted.
Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association have not indicated if they will appeal the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to the Supreme Court.
- U.S. Roadless Rule Weathers Court Challenge from Wyoming, Colorado Mining Association (The Colorado Independent)
- Wyoming v. USDA (FindLaw's CaseLaw)
- Wyoming Governor Asks for En Banc Review of Roadless Rule (FindLaw's Tenth Circuit blog)