06/28/2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today renewed for another year a policy giving himself sole power to approve logging or road projects on tens of millions of forested acres while the Obama administration decides how to handle the controversial Clinton-era roadless rule.
One year ago, Vilsack signed a directive saying no projects would proceed without his personal approval on nearly all of the areas covered by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. It included the option he invoked today to renew the interim policy for an additional year.
"While the courts continue to wrestle with roadless policy, I will continue to work with the USDA Forest Service to ensure we protect roadless areas on our National Forests," Vilsack said in a statement. "Renewing this interim directive reflects President Obama's commitment to protecting our forests by ensuring that all projects in roadless areas receive a higher level of scrutiny."
Jane Danowitz, director of Pew Environment Group's U.S. public lands program, called the renewal of the directive "good news."
"Today's announcement is a welcome reaffirmation of a national policy that helps protect America's most pristine forests," Danowitz said. "It also reflects the reality that the 1872 Mining Law leaves roadless forests and Western water sources threatened by gold, uranium and other mining operations. Reform of the mining law is long overdue, and the Obama administration and Congress should make it a high priority."
Read the full article, Obama Administration Extends Time-Out on Roadless Decision, on the New York Times' Web site.