Mon October 1, 2012

Supreme Court Won't Consider Roadless Appeal [UPDATED]

The US Supreme Court has declined to consider an appeal challenging the federal roadless rule that bans logging, mining and other development on more than fifty million acres of national forest lands.

The Colorado Mining Association and attorneys with the state of Wyoming asked the high court to consider their appeal after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overturned a lower court ruling that had effectively invalidated the 2001 Roadless Rule.

It was the latest back and forth in a long saga of court battles that have ensued since President Clinton first enacted the sweeping roadless rule in 2001. 

"The action by the Supreme Court validates what is arguably one of the most important public lands conservation policies in a generation," said Jane Danowitz, director of US Public Lands for the Pew Environment Group.  

The Colorado Mining Association and Wyoming state attorneys argued the national roadless rule created de-facto wilderness without the consent of Congress, and thus violated federal law.

CMA's president Stuart Sanderson called the Supreme Court's action disappointing Monday, but not necessarily surprising because the court considers so few appeals. 

Sanderson noted it does not, however, impact Colorado's state specific rule, which was recently finalized and includes exemptions for some road building into previously protected forests for coal mine expansions.

"That is the silver lining in this," he said.

Follow Kirk Siegler on Twitter @KirkSiegler.

Editor's note: this post has been updated to include reaction from the Colorado Mining Association.