Biden Administration Repeals the 2020 Roadless Rule in the Tongass

Repealing the 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule, which exempted the Tongass from roadless protections, will return the inventoried roadless areas of the forest to management under the 2001 Roadless Rule, which prohibits road construction, reconstruction, and timber harvest in inventoried roadless areas, with limited exceptions. USDA determined that the underlying goals and purposes of the 2001 Roadless Rule continue to be a critical part of conserving the many resources of the Tongass, especially when it comes to the values that roadless areas represent for local, rural communities, Alaska Native peoples, and the economy of Southeast Alaska.

WaPo coverage here:

“The Tongass Roadless Rule is important to everyone,” said Joel Jackson, president of the Organized Village of Kake, which sits on the forest edge on an island south of the capital, Juneau.

“The old-growth timber is a carbon sink, one of the best in the world,” Jackson said in a statement. “It’s important to OUR WAY OF LIFE — the streams, salmon, deer, and all the forest animals and plants.”

Tribal leaders and Native organizers made a huge push to get these protections back in place. According to the press release, the Administration received more than 112,000 comments during this rulemaking (that is a *lot* of comments), a majority of which were in support of this change.

Law Professor Comments Submitted on EPA Proposed Rule

Law Professor Comments regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Revision of Certain Water Quality Criteria Applicable to the State of Washington, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0174, published at 80 Fed. Reg. 55063 (Sept. 14, 2015):

Water quality standards (WQS) for Washington2 impact the rights, resources, and health and well-being of numerous tribes in the region. In fact, when the waters that support fish are allowed to be contaminated, tribes’ interests are profoundly affected and tribal people disproportionately among the most exposed. This context is significant, because it constrains rulemaking in important ways. Among other things, the adequacy of WQS for Washington must be considered in view of legal protections for tribes’ fishing rights, including treaties and other instruments.

Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Native Hawaiian Self Governance

NPRM here.

Press release here.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior announced today a proposal to create an administrative procedure and criteria that the Secretary of the Interior would apply if the Native Hawaiian community forms a unified government that then seeks a formal government-to-government relationship with the United States. Under the new proposal, the Native Hawaiian community — not the Federal government — would decide whether to reorganize a Native Hawaiian government, what form that government would take, and whether it would seek a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

The Federal Rule Making Process

Given yesterday’s announcement about the proposed ICWA rules, here is a quick and general guide to how a proposed rule becomes a part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Here is the Federal Register Tutorial: What it is and how to use it (you know you want to know the historical background of the Federal Register Act).

There is also a lot of information over at the Cornell Legal Information Institute’s Regulation Room on what federal rule making is, and what makes for effective comments.

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