Thursday, August 26, 2010
How green is Judge Molloy?
One of the West's most controversial federal judges -- Don Molloy in Missoula, Mont. -- was at it again Aug. 5. Ruling on two lawsuits filed by 14 environmental groups, Molloy ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore full Endangered Species Act protections for the 1,300-plus gray wolves in Idaho and Montana. By doing so, the judge fueled the perception in some camps that he's a green activist. Molloy also ruled for environmentalists in an important case last year, ordering the feds to restore protections for Yellowstone's grizzly bears because of the decline of whitebark pines, a primary food source. Four months ago, Molloy ordered the U.S. Forest Service not to use helicopters to spray weeds in grizzly habitat in northwest Montana because the noise might cause the bears to flee. A right-wing Oregon blogger condemned Molloy as a "nutzoid" greenie after those rulings. It's a refrain that began shortly after Democratic President Clinton appointed Molloy in 1995. Over the years, Molloy has blocked dozens of timber sales, reined in backcountry snowmobilers, protected wilderness-study areas, upheld Montana's ban on game farms that might spread wildlife diseases -- you get the drift. Molloy -- who gets a lot of environmental cases simply because of his location -- still rules against environmentalists more than half the time, says one lawyer who's often in his court. Another frequent lawsuit-filer quickly names five timber sales that Molloy approved over his objections; all five were ultimately blocked by an appeals court...more