U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following comment concerning a federal judge's decision to accept a settlement proposal by the U.S. Forest Service in Organized Village of Kake, et. al. v. USDA. The settlement re-imposes the 2001 roadless rule in the Tongass National Forest.
"The settlement catches the communities in Southeast in a terrible trap. While the agreement provides limited protection for a handful of energy and mineral projects, it excludes dozens of other projects -- and hundreds of areas with great potential -- that could help lower energy costs and boost the region's economy.
"I'm disappointed the court did not approve the state's request to protect additional projects from potential harm from the roadless rule. I understand that the state is seriously evaluating all legal options, including appealing the judge's decision accepting the settlement and a suit challenging the validity of the roadless rule itself. I strongly encourage the state to pursue both of those options.
"At the same time, I have co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Barrasso of Wyoming that would remove roadless restrictions from all federal forests in the state of Alaska.
"The roadless rule was never intended to apply to the Tongass because ANILCA already set logging limits for the forest, as did the Tongass Timber Reform Act."