Agriculture Secretary faces contempt hearing
August 20, 2007

A federal judge in Montana has ordered the Bush administration's top forestry official to explain why he should not be held in contempt of court.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy in Missoula, Montana, ordered Agriculture Secretary Mark Rey to appear in his court October 15th unless the U.S. Forest Service meets his latest deadline for an analysis of the issue.

In his order, Judge Molloy called Rey the "political master" of the Forest Service, and noted that he had blocked completion of an earlier review.

Forest Service spokesman Joe Walsh says the agency is working on it, but he can't say whether they will meet the new deadline.

Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, an environmental group based in Eugene, filed the lawsuit after more than 20,000 fish were killed when toxic fire retardant was dropped in Fall Creek in Central Oregon.

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