Friday, November 7, 2014

D.C. Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Alaska’s Challenge to Roadless Rule

On November 7, the D.C. Circuit (Rogers, Kavanaugh, Williams) issued a decision in Alaska v. Department of Agriculture.  Alaska filed suit in 2011 challenging the Forest Service’s 2001 Roadless Rule, 36 C.F.R. §§ 294.10-.14.  The district court dismissed Alaska’s suit as barred by the six-year statute of limitations in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a).  The D.C. Circuit reversed, holding that when the Forest Service repealed the Roadless Rule in 2005, this extinguished Alaska’s cause of action that had accrued with the promulgation of the Rule in 2001.  The order of the District Court for the Northern District of California that reinstated the Roadless Rule in 2006, see California v. Department of Agriculture, 459 F. Supp. 2d 874 (N.D. Cal. 2006), thus created a new right of action, and restarted the six-year clock under § 2401(a), rendering Alaska’s 2011 lawsuit timely.  The court of appeals rejected the Forest Service’s argument that the reinstatement of a regulation by court order does not restart the statute of limitations.

—Todd Aagaard

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