New Tongass Roadless Replacement: Rulemaking Questions



As I predicted (it doesn’t take psychic powers, just experience) , the Trump Alaska Roadless Rule is going away, as this WaPo story says, “replaced or repealed.” The headline says “reinstate” but I’m not sure that’s accurate. The WaPo map shows something of what will be proposed in the new proposed Rule?  Or?

The Biden administration said Friday that it would “repeal or replace” a rule allowing roads and other types of development in more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, reviving 20-year-old protections President Donald Trump had stripped three months before leaving office.

The move was outlined in the administration’s new regulatory agenda. The notice from the White House said the change was consistent with President Biden’s Jan. 27 executive order “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” The Agriculture Department expects to publish the proposed rule in August, the notice said.

Does the new proposed rule need a new EIS, I wonder, or can it just adopt the old one (Trump-era one). Seems like they should be able to pick any alternative they want from it. Or are there FS workers even now working to produce a new DEIS to support the Rule? Wouldn’t it need an ANPR? Or did I miss it?

I don’t know about “repealing” regulations.. if it were that easy, wouldn’t all regulations that a new administration doesn’t like be repealed and replaced with ones from the prior administration of the same color?

I’m hoping the Biden Administration uses the work of the FS and other folks who worked in good faith with the feds in the last few years to update the Rule where it needs updating, and not just reinstate the 2001.  As Chris Wood himself famously said “the 2001 Rule was not written on stone tablets.”


1 thought on “New Tongass Roadless Replacement: Rulemaking Questions”

  1. I’ll offer an opinion. Under the APA, they are changing a rule, so they have to go through the rule-making process of providing notice and allowing comment. I’m not aware of any requirement for an ANPR (advance noticed of proposed rule-making). Under NEPA, in general, as long as the effects analysis in an EIS remains valid, it should be possible to change the decision to select a different alternative, or arguably something else from within the range of alternatives, including no-action (and there is no requirement under NEPA to implement a decision). With this being rule-making, however; it seems to me that the no-action alternative has changed to no roadless rule, which would change the framing of the effects analysis. (The environmental effects of again “adopting” a roadless rule should be largely beneficial.)


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