Suit Challenges National Forest Policy Changes
The Coalfield Progress, Wise County
January 11, 2012
Filed in Big Stone Gap, the litigation addresses rule changes under the National Environmental Policy Act The Wise-based Clinch Coalition is among nine environmental and conservation organizations that have filed a court challenge aiming to reverse a recent Trump administration rule regarding public involvement in national forest policies. According to a Jan. 8 press release, the groups filed suit that day to challenge a recently-finalized rule that would, in the plaintiffs’ words, “eliminate transparency, public input and science based review” from many of the U.S. Forest Service’s “most environ-mentally consequential decisions.” The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. district court at Big Stone Gap, specifically addresses rule changes under the National Environmental Policy Act. The release states that the new rule “would severely restrict opportunities for the kind of public review that com-munities have depended on for decades to speak up for places they care about.” “Public voices and scientific studies are critical when considering commercial projects in our national forests,” Clinch Coalition vice chair and biologist Wally Smith said in the release. “Taking away those voices takes away the best tool we have to ensure these wild areas are sustained for future generations.” Another Clinch Coalition member is former Clinch Ranger District employee David Skinner, who said: “I am gravely concerned that the new NEPA regulations will prevent me and others from participating in the decision making process to make sure our public lands are managed in a way that is in the best interest of the local citizens.” The lead plaintiff is the Charlottesville-based Southern Environmental Law Center. Other plain-tiffs include the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Chattooga Conservancy, Cherokee Forest Voices, Defenders of Wildlife, Georgia Forest Watch, Mountain True, Virginia Wilderness Committee and Wild Virginia. “This new rule is designed to fast-track objectionable projects so a group like mine won’t have the time to fully understand the proposals and the risks,” said Wild Virginia conservation director David Sligh.
Actual Lawsuit can be found at: