Greenpeace Statement on New Roadless Rule Announcement
On July 12, while Secretary of Agriculture Anne Veneman announced the administration’s intent to eliminate the Roadless Conservation Rule, Greenpeace returned to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest with its ship, the Arctic Sunrise.
© Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace
In the face of the most significant dismantling of environmental law in US history, Greenpeace is stepping up its forest campaign activities calling for an immediate national moratorium on large- scale commercial logging and road construction on federal forests. The moratorium would remain in effect until the mismanagement of forestlands under the administration of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management has been thoroughly investigated by the government. Greenpeace is also calling for the establishment of new federally controlled protected areas, such as national parks and wilderness areas.
The administration's decision to exempt all national forests from the Roadless Rule follows an earlier exemption of the Tongass and Chugach National Forests in Alaska, America's largest and second largest national forests. The Tongass is home to the northern extent of the largest coastal temperate rainforest on the planet, the rarest forest type on Earth.
The Administration's piecemeal dismantling of the Roadless Rule is in contradiction to a campaign promise made by the president when running for office. The Rule, enacted by President Clinton in 2001, prohibits road building in over 58 million acres of unspoiled national forests and was overwhelmingly supported by the American public. Over six hundred public meetings were held and over 2 million people in fifty states commented; 95 percent spoke in favor of the rule. The Roadless Rule is also has broad support over party lines. A 2001 opinion poll showed 76 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Independents in support of the rule.
The administration's latest proposal would force state governors to petition the Secretary of Agriculture, and in particular, Undersecretary for Natural Resources, Mark Rey, a former 20 -year timber lobbyist, to keep protection for specific roadless areas in their states. Already several western governors whose states contain the majority of the roadless areas have stated their opposition to the Bush proposal due to the grave impacts it will have on our public lands. We urge all governors to publicly oppose the Roadless Conservation Rule evisceration. Meanwhile, Greenpeace will continue our campaign to protect America's public lands in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and across the country.