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How Significant Is Lands Council Decision?

The more I think about it, the more I think Lands Council v. McNair is an important decision. Here are some other assessments from the Jackson Hole Star Tribune:

U.S. Agriculture Department Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the Forest Service, called this "the most important decision involving a Forest Service environmental case in the last two decades," saying it restores the ability of federal agencies, not meddling judges, to exercise discretion over timber sales.

"The judges established a much more limited framework for judicial review of Forest Service decisions -- a framework that's much more consistent with the standard use by other circuits," Rey told The Associated Press. "The court says its role is not to act as a panel of scientists. They wanted to move back to a more appropriate role."

Timber industry representatives said this will help stop judges from asserting their opinions over the decisions of Forest Service managers.

"We think it's a landmark case," said Tom Partin, president of the Portland, Ore.-based American Forest Resource Council. "It speaks volumes that 11 judges out of the 9th Circuit came up with this decision ... saying that the panel screwed up and that the judges aren't supposed to second-guess the forest managers."

Earth Justice, a nonprofit environmental law firm that's monitored this case but didn't represent the plaintiffs, contends claims by logging advocates and Rey are premature that this decision will radically shift the balance of power toward the agency and away from environmental groups.

"I don't know that it changes the law at all, frankly," said Todd True, from the group's Seattle office. "Environmental groups or anyone else asking the courts to review government action have always had the burden to show that the government acted arbitrarily and that it failed to consider some factor that's important. I don't think this decision says that these agency scientists get a free pass and can do whatever they want to, and the courts have to accept it."

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. How Significant Is Lands Council Decision?
  2. Lands Council v. McNair:
  3. Ninth Circuit Overrules Ecology Center:
Crunchy Frog:

Earth Justice, a nonprofit environmental law firm that's monitored this case but didn't represent the plaintiffs, contends claims by logging advocates and Rey are premature that this decision will radically shift the balance of power toward the agency and away from environmental groups.

One can only hope. Folks in So Cal have been trying to get rid of dead bark beetle-infested trees for years, before they (and the rest of the surrounding National Forest land) go up in flames. The environmental groups, upset that someone, somewhere might actually make a profit (the logging companies, chiefly), fight this tooth and nail.

It's not enough that they hug live trees - do they have to hug dead ones as well?
7.7.2008 10:58pm
Sua Tremendita (mail):
I just read the profile of a chief attorney at Earthjustice. Egor Van Trapp, or some such name. The profile was in the form of an interview and left me shellshocked.

Anyway, my favorite part was when Von Trapp states that somewhere in the US an evil powerplant will be shut down on account of the polar bear reaching the coveted "endangered" milestone.
7.8.2008 2:11am
David Schorr:
Interesting that the industry representative opposes judicial intervention in Forest Service decisions. I wonder why he assumes those will always be in industry's favor?
7.8.2008 4:02am
Casper the Friendly Guest:
"And we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling judges."

Somebody tell Mark Rey that he should tone down the villain act.
7.8.2008 9:21am
Adam J:
Sua Tremendita - Anyway, my favorite part was when Von Trapp states that somewhere in the US an evil powerplant will be shut down on account of the polar bear reaching the coveted "endangered" milestone." Funny, I looked through the profiles of the attorneys too, and the only attorney with a name remotely similar, Trip Van Noppen, said nothing remotely similar... one might think you were just making things up.
7.8.2008 10:42am
Dr. T (mail) (www):
This is another situation where feel-good environmentalism causes harm. My brother-in-law works for the Forest Service as a fire fighter in the summer and as a tree cutting assessor the rest of the year. I've met numerous Forestry Service workers, and they are truly devoted to preserving our forests. Many of the disastrous forest fires over the last twenty years were the direct result of environmentalists blocking selective logging. The forests built up too much old growth and tangles with no sparse areas. When fires started (usually from lightning), they burned hot near the ground (instead of just the treetops) which led to out-of-control fires. Unfortunately, one such fire occurred in the Central Washington area where by brother-in-law lives, and the beautiful scenery of the Cascade Mountains turned to a view of ashes and charred stumps.

I'm glad that the court ruled against the previous decision and in favor of giving more control to the Forest Service.
7.8.2008 6:46pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

Interesting that the industry representative opposes judicial intervention in Forest Service decisions. I wonder why he assumes those will always be in industry's favor?


Perhaps it is not that the Forest Service will always be pro-logger, but rather that with the proper forum-shopping, a judge who will consistently rule against logging can always be found.
7.9.2008 7:45am