Forest Fights

The Supreme Court rules against environmental groups seeking to stop deforestation projects

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Environmentalists hoping to sue against logging projects may now have one more hoop to jump through.

Tuesday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reinstate a Bush-era logging rule that will make it harder for the public or gung-ho green groups to sue against some deforestation projects.

The issue arose back in 2002 after a 238-acre plot in California’s Sequoia National Park burnt down in a forest fire.

After the fire, the Forest Service put the land (known as the Burnt Ridge Project) up for grabs to loggers. Because of President George W. Bush’s rule, the US Forest Service wasn’t obligated to allow public comment or appeal of small-scale logging projects less than 250-acres in size.

Environmental groups Earth Island Institute and Sequoia ForestKeeper didn’t like that idea, and went ahead and sued the Forest Service.

The groups won in federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The judge ordered a new nationwide injunction prohibiting the Forest Service from blocking public comment on small projects.

The Bush exemptions ended up moot, as the area in Sequoia was never logged. After six years, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and they reversed the outcome.

The Supreme Court found that the groups Earth Island Institute and Sequoia ForestKeeper had “no legal standing to bring their case because they couldn’t demonstrate direct harm,” according to a LA Times article.

Because of the court’s ruling Tuesday, The Forest Service can dive back to 2003 and again place a restriction on public comment and hearings against small-scale salvage logging plans, and even “forest-thinning projects of fewer than 1,000 acres,” as noted in an Olympian article.

Score one for the Bush administration: You have to give them credit for passing agendas from beyond the political grave.

Supreme Court limits Challenges to logging in federal forests (The Olympian- Michael Doyle)

Bush Logging rule is reinstated (Los Angeles Times- Bettina Boxall)

(Photo Credit- Jessejay on Flickr)

–Matt Draper