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: