Appeals court revives Alaska suit on roadless rule

AP News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2014 12:31 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit by the state of Alaska challenging the national roadless rule, which prohibits road construction and timber harvesting on millions of acres of forest lands, including vast swaths of national forest in Alaska.

In a 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a federal judge's ruling that Alaska waited too long to file its complaint.

The appeals court said Alaska's lawsuit, filed in 2011, was within a six-year time limit.

The U.S. Forest Service argued that the clock on Alaska's suit began running in 2001 when the roadless rule was issued. The three-judge appeals panel disagreed, saying the rule was repealed in 2005 by the Forest Service and reinstated in 2006 by a federal judge.

"The Forest Service says that this case is different because the rule was reinstated in 2006 as a result of a court order," wrote appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The appeals court said it does not matter whether the 2006 rule was issued by the agency acting on its own or as a result of a court order.

"Either way, when the rule was reinstated in 2006 after its repeal in 2005," a new six-year time limit began, Kavanaugh wrote.