05/06/2009 - During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama strongly supported a regulation enacted near the end of the Clinton administration prohibiting commercial activity in nearly 60 million roadless acres of the national forests. Eager to open those forests to timber and oil companies, the Bush administration spent eight years trying to undermine the rule. It remains at risk, and President Obama should intervene now to save the rule and the forests it is meant to protect.
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The roadless rule was one of President Bill Clinton’s signature environmental achievements. Thanks to it — and citizen protests and legal efforts by environmental groups — very few miles of new roads have been built in protected areas since the rule took effect in 2001. But enduring legal confusion (the rule has been upheld in the Ninth Circuit, shot down in district court in Wyoming) has permitted regional foresters to move forward with commercial logging projects in Idaho, Colorado, Oregon and the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
Read the full editorial Who Will Protect the Forests? on the New York Times' Web site.