F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
August 20, 2000
Clinton's Illegal Roadless Initiative

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

President Clinton's roadless initiative for America's national forests wasn't just a bad decision; it was also an illegal one.

"No entrance allowed," guards remark,
"Either after or prior to dark:
Access is restricted,
Denied, interdicted --
To this taxpayer-subsidized park."

The Clinton Administration's decision to establish roadless areas in millions of acres of national forests was "made improperly, in apparent violation of the due process rights of affected parties, as well as applicable statutes enacted by Congress to protect those rights." That's the conclusion of the Preliminary Staff Report of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, available online at undueinfluence.com. The Report charges that "the Administration's roadless area initiative was developed in an environmental vacuum, with virtually all input coming from a select few in the environmentalist community." Groups taking advantage of this preferential treatment included the Heritage Forest Campaign, the Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the US Public Interest Research Group, the Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund, the Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club.

According to the Preliminary Staff Report, representatives of these select groups "had continuous communication with, and access to, the federal employees that were directly involved in the creation of the rule-making. . . . This access," the Report emphasizes, "was not limited to meetings, which were numerous, but included the providing of draft language, legal memoranda, and survey research data to the Administration, which was then used to justify and frame the roadless area rule."

In addition to criticizing the "structured relationship between the Administration and environmentalists," the Preliminary Staff Report also deplores "the lack of any evidence of even a token effort by the Administration to involve other interested parties. This disregard for any balance in the advice being solicited is evidence of both the pretextual nature of the decision, which had clearly already been made, and of a lack of concern for any adverse consequences on the affected users of the forest lands in question."

The Preliminary Staff Report notes that "poor data and erroneous documents were being developed and used, and mistakes being made, as a result of efforts to move the process too quickly." It accuses the Clinton Administration of disregarding "the unique role of Congress under the Constitution in shaping policy on public lands and the environment" and concludes that "the White House, the Department of Agriculture, and the Forest Service violated various statutory standards in the development of their rule-making."

At last you become a landowner,
And suddenly appears the land zoner.
So you pay and you pay
And learn with dismay
That you've also become a land donor.

* from Politickles: Limericks Lampooning the Lunatic Left
by F.R. Duplantier (Merril Press, 2000),
available at Amazon.com and other online locations.

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