2003 Scorecard Vote
America's national forests are subdivided by more than 380,000 miles of roads, the vast majority of them built for the logging industry and subsidized by taxpayers. These roads often degrade key fish and wildlife habitat and pollute nearby rivers, lakes and streams. In early January 2001, after three years of public hearings and public comments, the Clinton administration issued an administrative rule, known as the roadless area conservation rule, to protect some 58.5 million acres of roadless national forest lands from roadbuilding and most forms of logging.
Since coming into office, the Bush administration has sought to undermine the roadless rule through a combination of administrative initiatives and neglect. In Idaho, for instance, the Bush administration failed to defend the rule in a lawsuit filed by Boise Corporation and the state of Idaho. More recently, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals urging the court to deny standing to environmental organizations appealing an injunction against the rule.
Earlier this year, the Bush administration unveiled a draft proposal to drop roadless protections for the globally significant Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Plans are now underway to drop protections for Alaska's Chugach National Forest, America's second largest forest, and to allow governors to petition the administration for similar exemptions for national forests in their own states. Meanwhile, the Forest Service is planning nearly 50 timber sales in Tongass old-growth forests that should be protected by the rule.
In response to these policy rollbacks, Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) offered an amendment to H.R. 2691, the 2004 Interior appropriations bill, to prohibit the administration from expending any federal funds to make changes to the roadless rule as it was originally published. On July 17, 2003, the House rejected the Inslee amendment by a 185-234 vote (House roll call vote 386). YES is the pro-environment vote. In December 2003, the Bush administration published a proposed rule that would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the roadless rule.