"As a candidate for president, Barack Obama wooed environmentalists with a promise to 'support and defend' pristine national forest land from road building and other development that had been pushed by the George W. Bush administration.
But five months into Obama's presidency, the new administration is actively opposing those protections on about 60 million acres of federal woodlands in a case being considered by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The roadless issue is one of several instances of the administration defending in court environmental policies that it once vowed to end.
Its position has been a disappointment to environmentalists who had hoped for decisive action in rolling back Bush-era policies.
Administration officials say that in some cases, they are defending the policies to prevent the courts from settling the issues -- a prospect that would restrict the government's ability to set the environmental agenda. They say the task of setting policy is better left to government agencies and legislators."