Obama National Forest Rule: Litigation Is 'Highly Likely'

Categories: Environment
Was he counting on Obama for protection?
Environmentalists have come out swinging hard against Obama's new forest rules, which they claim is a watered-down plan for wildlife protection across the nation.

But are they prepared to take the president to court?
"We are still early in the process, so it's premature to talk about litigation," said Marc Fink, a staff attorney with the Center of Biological Diversity, a national environmental group based in San Francisco.

However, if no significant changes are made, then litigation is "highly likely," he says.

The group was "disappointed" when Obama unveiled his last week with very little fanfare. The proposed plan lacks guidelines to protect streams and watersheds and there is no clear standard for monitoring species, Fink says.

These are severely weaker standards that what the country saw under republican President Ronald Regan, who required the Forest Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to protect species that were in danger. This later became known as species viability.

The Bush Administration killed the species viability standard to promote logging. California environmentalists sued and lost in the federal courts. Obama then promised to make sweeping changes to the national forest rules.

Last week, the president released a draft plan that deflated environmental groups across the board. The public has 90 days to comment on the plan, and a final plan will be crafted by the end of the year.

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