Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mark Rey; Not Going To Jail

The U.S. District Court Judge cleared Mark Rey of the contempt charges yesterday. From the Missoulian:

"U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey walked out of federal court a free man Wednesday in Missoula, wearing not an orange inmate's jumpsuit but the gray business suit with American flag lapel pin he had donned for his contempt hearing.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy cleared Rey, the Bush administration's top forest official, and the Forest Service of contempt and withdrew his threat to jail Rey or ground all fire retardant air tankers until the agency evaluated the environmental impact of the chemical slurry.

Molloy did not rule on the merits of the Forest Service's environmental analysis, and the watchdog group whose lawsuit prompted the showdown said it planned to take new legal action to challenge the agency's finding that aerial retardant causes little harm to fish and other aquatic creatures.

“We accomplished what we wanted to do, which was to make the Forest Service follow the law,” said Andy Stahl, director of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, based in Eugene, Ore.

In his testimony, Rey apologized for the Forest Service's tardiness in following the judge's order to complete an environmental analysis of the potential harm from ammonium phosphate, the primary ingredient in retardant dropped on wildfires."

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