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Admin. Official Testifies at Hearing {Judge banning fire retardant)
AP via SFGate ^ | 2/26/8 | SUSAN GALLAGHER, Associated Press Writer

Posted on 02/26/2008 9:29:21 PM PST by SmithL

Missoula, Mont. (AP) -- A Bush administration official apologized Tuesday to a federal judge in urging that he not hold the U.S. Forest Service's use of a fire retardant that environmentalists say kills fish and plants.

Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the Forest Service, acknowledged the agency was slow in preparing environmental studies related to the effects of the chemical firefighting tool dropped from airplanes.

"There is no way to put a positive face on the fact that we dropped the ball," Rey testified in court. "We're sorry."

While Rey was contrite, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy was visibly frustrated by the delays.

Molloy has threatened to hold the Forest Service in contempt, accusing the agency of skirting the law so it can keep fighting wildfires with the retardant.

"Don't come in here on the last day — at the last minute — and tell me you've got a problem," said Molloy, upset over the Forest Service's failure to inform him of their difficulty in meeting deadlines.

If Molloy finds the agency in contempt, potential sanctions include sending Rey to jail, putting him under house arrest and banning the Forest Service from using any fire retardants but water in air tankers.

Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist who has directed U.S. forest policy since 2001, said the environmental studies were completed in good faith and that he did what he could to move them along.

Court recessed Tuesday afternoon without a ruling. Additional testimony was scheduled for Wednesday.

In 2005, Molloy ruled the Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act when it failed to go through a public process to analyze the potential harm from using ammonium phosphate, a fertilizer that can kill fish, as the primary ingredient for fire retardant.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: activistjudge; markrey; usforestservice

1 posted on 02/26/2008 9:29:25 PM PST by SmithL
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Molloy, Donald W.
Born 1946 in Butte, MT

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U. S. District Court, District of Montana
Nominated by William J. Clinton on December 21, 1995, to a seat vacated by Paul Gerhart Hatfield; Confirmed by the Senate on July 18, 1996, and received commission on August 1, 1996. Served as chief judge, 2001-present.

University of Montana, B.A., 1968

University of Montana School of Law, J.D., 1976

Professional Career:
U.S. Navy, Naval Aviation, 1968-1973
Law clerk, Hon. James Battin, U.S. District Court, District of Montana, 1976-1978
Private practice, Billings, Montana, 1978-1995

Race or Ethnicity: White

Gender: Male

2 posted on 02/26/2008 9:29:48 PM PST by SmithL (That's my story & I'm sticking to it!)
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To: SmithL
...the U.S. Forest Service's use of a fire retardant that environmentalists say kills fish and plants.

Unlike fire, right? The freaks are probably largely worried that someone who dared to build a home "in nature" (likely rich folk!) won't get their just ecological punishment.

3 posted on 02/26/2008 9:36:27 PM PST by M203M4 (True Universal Suffrage: Pets of dead illegal-immigrant felons voting Democrat (twice))
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To: M203M4

I don’t get it. If they don’t put the fire out then plants and animals will certainly die. Possibly humans too.

4 posted on 02/26/2008 9:40:42 PM PST by CindyDawg
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To: SmithL

As my grandma would say, “I think these judges are gettin’ a little too big for their breeches.”

5 posted on 02/26/2008 10:05:14 PM PST by VeniVidiVici (Benedict Arnold was against the Terrorist Surveillance Program)
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To: CindyDawg

I haven’t read the case, but my guess is that the judge (and the law he’s relying on) focus on persistent “threats” to the environment. Of course an uncontrolled fire will kill plenty of plants and animals, but it is a temporary event and, in a way, a natural process to which living things have had time to adapt. If, to fight that temporary destructive process, you put something into the environment that is not “natural” to that local area, then you might be causing more long term harm than short term good. All that said, I personally think we should go after fires with whatever we’ve got that works most effectively and economically. I don’t discount the long term harm argument in principle, but I don’t think we currently know enough to be able to predict long term consequences.

6 posted on 02/27/2008 3:41:17 AM PST by Stirner
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