The Supreme Court won't touch the Roadless Rule in the 2012 Term.
Monday, the Court denied petitions for certiorari from the Colorado Mining Association and the State of Wyoming, which were asking for review of the Clinton-era rule, Environment News Service reports.
The Roadless Rule is a regulation that bans construction and reconstruction in certain inventoried roadless areas (IRAs). The Forest Service adopted the Interim Roadless Rule, an 18-month moratorium on road construction in most 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 2001, the Forest Service issued the final Roadless Rule, which prohibited road construction and reconstruction in IRAs, and banned the cutting, sale, or removal of timber from IRAs, subject to limited exceptions. Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association sued to challenge the Rule.
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, and declined to reconsider the case this year.
Attorney Paul Seby, who submitted the Colorado Mining Association's petition to the Supreme Court, told the Denver Post earlier this year, "Congress never considered banning the multiple use of 58.5 million acres of lands forever -- including whether to put them off limits to responsible natural resource development and forest health management."
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead also opposes the rule. "This has real impacts for multiple use in Wyoming, and the rule was developed without meaningful input from any state, county or town ... This rule affects our economy and our ability to fight the bark beetle epidemic." Gov. Matt Mead said in a statement.
Despite several high-profile opponents, the Roadless Rule still has many supporters. Jane Danowitz of the Pew Environment told Environment News Service this week that the Roadless Rule was the result of the largest public lands review in U.S. history, with more than 1.2 million comments and 600 public hearings.
"Today's Supreme Court action validates one of America's most important and popular land conservation policies ... Without the national standard of protection the rule provides, millions of acres of America's last pristine national forests could be lost to logging and other industrial development," Danowitz said.
- October 1 Orders (Supreme Court)
- Wyoming v. USDA (FindLaw's CaseLaw)
- Wyoming Asks US Supreme Court to Overturn Roadless Rule Decision (The Republic)
- Wyoming Governor Asks for En Banc Review of Roadless Rule (FindLaw's Tenth Circuit blog)