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DOJ drops appeal of decision to block US national forest regulation

[JURIST] The US Justice Department has withdrawn its appeal [PDF text; Earthjustice press release] of a federal judge's decision to invalidate a 2005 regulation governing the management of national forests, advocacy groups said Tuesday. The appeal was filed in a lawsuit brought by environmental advocacy groups alleging that the Department of Agriculture created a new rule for the forest planning process that bypassed environmental regulations. In March 2007, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the Northern District of California enjoined the Forest Service [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] from enforcing the rule "until it has fully complied" with the Endangered Species Act [EPA summary; text] and the National Environmental Policy Act [EPA summary; text]. Hamilton found that the 2005 regulation [text; summary], which gave national forest managers more discretion in allowing logging, mining and other activities, had been adopted without adequate procedural safeguards, environmental reviews and public comment. According to the court documents, other parties, including the timber industry, will also drop their appeals.

Earthjustice [advocacy website], which represented several of the plaintiffs, praised the DOJ's decision [press release] to withdraw its appeal. AP has more.

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