Alaska appeals dismissal of state's challenge to federal Roadless Rule, Attorney General says timber sales from Tongass are 'significantly hindered' by rule that prevents road building, logging, in 58.5 million acres of national forests
May 17, 2013
– The State of Alaska has appealed the dismissal of the State's challenge to the federal Roadless Rule.
"Timber sales from the Tongass are significantly hindered by the federal Roadless Rule, which prohibits road building and logging in 58.5 million acres of national forests," said Attorney General Michael Geraghty. "We believe that the Roadless Rule is invalid, especially as it applies to Alaska and its unique legal circumstances."
Instead of hearing the case on the merits, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case on the grounds that the State missed the six-year deadline for filing a lawsuit. The court held there can be no exceptions to the six-year rule – no matter how compelling the circumstances.
In 2001 when the Roadless Rule was established, the State filed suit almost immediately. The United States settled this first challenge by agreeing to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule, thus causing the State to dismiss the case. The exemption from the rule remained in place until 2011, when it was struck down in federal district court. Following the invalidation of the Tongass exemption, the State again immediately challenged the Roadless Rule.
Considering that the State has promptly filed suit twice, and in between it could not challenge the Roadless Rule, because it was not in effect, the State asserts that the six-year limitation on suing should be extended. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which will hear the appeal, has previously indicated that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions may allow for extensions of the time for filing where equity so requires.
For more information contact Assistant Attorney General Tom Lenhart at (907) 465-3600.