- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2001

The Bush administration yesterday delayed a rule banning road-building and most logging in the nation's forests, following through on its promise to re-examine a slew of regulations issued by President Clinton during his final days in office.
Mr. Clinton hoped to secure his environmental legacy by effectively prohibiting natural resources development on 58 million acres of public land.
However, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card issued a Jan. 20 memo to all agencies requesting that new rules and regulations be blocked to "ensure that the president's appointees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations."
The action was published yesterday in the Federal Register , making it official and delaying implementation of the contentious rule from March 13 to May 12.
The delay is "necessary to give department officials the opportunity for further review and consideration of new regulations consistent with the … memo," said Kevin Herglotz, spokesman for the Agriculture Department.
Mr. Herglotz would not speculate on what, if any, changes would be made to alter the regulations, which he described as hundreds of pages of complex technical documents.
"This regulation is in the review process; no decision has been made at this time," Mr. Herglotz said.
House and Senate Republicans were critical of the Clinton administration for bypassing Congress and restricting land use through the federal regulatory process. Republican leaders had urged Mr. Bush to overturn or delay the rule.
Hundreds of public meetings were held throughout the country on Mr. Clinton's forest plan, and the U.S. Forest Service received 130,000 public comments on the issue.
Environmentalists supported the ban, but opponents, mostly Westerners, said it would endanger forest health through uncontrolled insect infestation.
Lawmakers said new roads are needed to gain access to the woods to fight forest fires. Last year, 92,000 wildfires swept across 7.3 million acres.
Republicans also said public input was ignored.
They said the outcome of studies by the U.S. Forest Service was prejudiced from inception to reflect Mr. Clinton's wishes to limit development and public access to nearly one-third of the nation's forests.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, yesterday sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget expressing their concerns over Mr. Card's memo, which they said could reverse decisions that protect public land and the environment.
"In our capacity as ranking members on the Senate Governmental Affairs and House Government Reform Committees, we intend to closely monitor the implementation of the Card memorandum, particularly where it applies to measures to protect health and safety, consumers, and the environment," they said in the letter to Mitchell E. Daniels, OMB director.
"Although we understand the desire of the incoming administration to review new and pending regulations, we are concerned that the Card memorandum could be used to undermine long-needed safeguards," the letter said.
Meanwhile, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee plans to hold hearings to review the process and determine whether the regulations can be overturned by Congress, said a committee spokesman.
House Resources Committee Chairman James V. Hansen said his committee also will "vigorously" review the regulations.
"I will make it a priority to undo this kind of reckless, last-minute maneuvering," the Utah Republican said after the final regulation was announced Jan. 4.
"The American people deserve thoughtful, rational policies that allow local management and public enjoyment of their own lands," Mr. Hansen said. "They don't deserve this last-minute manipulation and grandstanding by a man desperate for a legacy."

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