Bush administration replaces Clinton roadless rule with more roadful one

The Bush administration yesterday gave the heave-ho to the sweeping Clinton administration roadless rule, which put some 58.5 million acres of national forests off-limits to development. In its place, a new rule will put 34.3 million acres of that land back into play, at the discretion of governors, who will have 18 months to petition the feds either to open national-forest land in their states to development or keep it protected. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey claimed that “the way [the Clinton rule] was done developed a substantial amount of ill will.” As more than 90 percent of the public comments on the Clinton rule were positive, while more than 95 percent (nearly 1.8 million) on the Bush rule were negative, said “ill will” likely came primarily from the oil, gas, logging, mining, and road-building industries. Said a spokesflack for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, “We have to find ways and work with local communities to evaluate these lands and see if they are best for oil and gas activities, recreation, whatever.” Whatever, please.