Wyoming seeks to reject environmentalists’ suit over roadless areas | SummitDaily.com

Wyoming seeks to reject environmentalists’ suit over roadless areas

Associated Press Writer

DENVER ” An attorney for the state of Wyoming asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to end a protracted battle over a Clinton-era ban on development in roadless areas by rejecting a lawsuit by environmentalists.

The Wyoming Outdoor Council and seven other environmental groups have appealed a 2003 decision by U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer overturning a rule by the Clinton administration to make 58 million acres of roadless forest land off-limits to development.

The Bush administration declined to appeal Brimmer’s ruling and is drafting a new policy expected to require states to petition to protect roadless areas.

Wyoming deputy attorney general Jennifer Golden told a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that only the federal government had the legal right to appeal, not the environmental groups.

“They cannot force the government to keep a rule that it does not want,” Golden said.

She also contended the new policy will render the legal dispute moot.

Appeals Court Judge Michael McConnell disagreed.

“An agency can’t simply wipe a regulation out without going through the proper procedures for doing that,” he said.

McConnell also challenged Golden’s argument that the roadless rule doesn’t exist because of Brimmer’s ruling.

“It does if we reverse (Brimmer),” McConnell replied.

The appeals court did not indicate when it would issue a ruling.

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