Time to Get on the Same Page


In 2006, a California district court struck down a weak Bush substitute and reinstated the 2001 Clinton rule. Justice Department lawyers, at the direction of President George Bush’s Forest Service, promptly appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit. They’re still appealing it — even though their new boss, Mr. Obama, loves the roadless rule.

The simple answer here would be for someone in the White House to call the Justice Department and tell it to withdraw the appeal, and let the Clinton rule stand. This may not end the legal Ping-Pong over the roadless rule, but it would put the president and his lawyers on the same side of the issue.

A similarly odd drama is playing out in a district court in San Francisco, where the Justice Department is defending Mr. Bush’s misguided attempt to overhaul Clinton-era rules governing the management of the country’s national forests. Mr. Bush’s overhaul would have shredded protections for wildlife and limited public input. But here again, the Justice Department finds itself defending rules Mr. Obama clearly dislikes. The answer in this case is for the Forest Service to simply withdraw the offensive Bush rules.

Still a third case, in district court in Idaho, involves the proposed expansion of a phosphate mine in a roadless area in southeastern near Yellowstone National Park.