Biden administration moves to reimpose Alaska forest development bans Trump lifted

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will propose reinstating the Clinton-era rule to ban logging, road building

Updated: November 19, 2021 - 10:01am

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The Biden administration is moving to reinstate a rule to ban logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, after the Trump administration lifted it last fall. 

Republicans and Democrats have for roughly two decades fought over whether to ban roads on roughly 9 million acres of the forest. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will propose reinstating the Clinton-era rule to ban logging and road building in more than half of North America’s largest temperate rainforest, the department told The Washington Post.

The restrictions stayed in place for years amid a series of court battles before the Trump administration removed them.

The proposed rule aims to protect critical habitat and prevent the carbon dioxide trapped in the forest from escaping into the atmosphere. But Alaska GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state's all-Republican congressional delegation say it would hurt the timber industry. 

Alaska Native leaders, environmentalists and tour operators argue that protecting the region's remaining wild landscapes will sustain the state's economy in the long term, The Post also reports. 

The rule will be published Tuesday, then subject to 60 days of public comment before being finalized.

The administration announced in July that it would end large-scale old-growth logging on the 16.7 million-acre forest.

The Clinton administration enacted the roadless rule to protect undeveloped stretches of national forest throughout the West.

Some modifications have been made in a few states including Idaho and Colorado, but it has remained largely intact since 2001, also according to The Post.

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