Pointless at this point?
Judge issues order lifting federal suspension of logging sales
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
A federal judge in Oregon today issued a restraining order blocking the Obama administration from enforcing its earlier suspension of timber sales during the government shutdown.
The order by Judge Owen Panner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon came the same day the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service directed regional staff to begin allowing timber contractors to resume operations with the shutdown over.
The order follows a lawsuit filed this week by the American Forest Resource Council and three wood products manufacturing companies in the Pacific Northwest that argued the administration’s suspension of timber sales during the 16-day government shutdown was illegal (E&ENews PM, Oct. 15).
Tom Partin, president of AFRC, today said the judge did not rule on the merits of the suspensions but issued the order so individual contractors do not have to wait to receive approval to return to work.
“It will take a few days to get those out to the folks in the forest,” Partin said. “We greatly appreciate the judge’s [temporary restraining order] today.”
The industry had argued in the lawsuit that the suspensions were illegal because the supervision of logging activities is not “critical” and therefore activity should have continued in the absence of appropriations.
It remains to be seen whether any companies will file breach-of-contract claims against the government for lost production during the shutdown, which came at a critical time for loggers after the wildfire season and before the onset of November rains.