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House defeats wilderness bill

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House defeats wilderness bill

Postby ERIC » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:08 pm

House defeats wilderness bill

By MATTHEW DALY, The Associated Press
9:57 a.m. March 11, 2009


WASHINGTON — The House Wednesday defeated a bill to set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness.

Majority Democrats agreed to amend the bill to clarify that it wouldn't impose new restrictions on hunting, fishing or trapping on federal land. The amendment was sought by the National Rifle Association.

A majority of House members supported the bill, but the measure was defeated because it did not receive the needed two-thirds vote. The vote was 282-144 in favor – two votes short of approval.

Democratic leaders vowed to bring the bill back, but did not say when or in what form.

"There are a lot of good bills, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, contained in (the lands bill) that deserve passage," said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. "We will continue to determine the best course of action to advance these measures."

House debate on the bill turned contentious, as Republicans complained that the measure – one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in 25 years – would cost up to $10 billion and block oil and gas development on millions of acres of federal property.

They also said it should not have been brought up under special rules that blocked most amendments and required two-thirds support for passage. Such rules are usually reserved for non-controversial bills.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., called the Democratic rules "an extreme abuse of the process." He said the bill – a collection of more over 170 individual bills – was "a 1,200-page monster piece of legislation" that could criminalize collecting rocks on federal land, among other problems.

Democrats disputed that and said the bill was among the most important conservation measures debated in the House in many years.

When headlines read that banks are failing, "it's important for Americans to know that "our national parks are still beautiful, our national battlefields are still sacred and our national rivers are still wild and scenic," Rahall said.

The defeated measure would have conferred the government's highest level of protection on land ranging from California's Sierra Nevada mountain range to Oregon's Mount Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

Land in Idaho's Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan and Zion National Park in Utah also would have won designation as wilderness, and more than 1,000 miles of rivers in nearly a dozen states would have gained protections.

The bill also would let Alaska construct the road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge as part of a land swap that would give the state a seven-mile easement through the refuge. In exchange, the state was expected to transfer more than 1,000 acres to the federal government, much of it designated as wilderness.

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Re: House defeats wilderness bill

Postby SteveB » Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:36 am

ERIC wrote:
House defeats wilderness bill
House debate on the bill turned contentious, as Republicans complained that the measure – one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in 25 years – would cost up to $10 billion and block oil and gas development on millions of acres of federal property.



Being a republican myself, I have absolutely no problem with this at all. Should have passed easily.
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Re: House defeats wilderness bill

Postby Matilda » Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:43 am

The problem came with trying to pass it under suspension of the rules. They'll take it through the normal process and it'll pass handily. The energy development issue really isn't one.
In the meantime, let your congressperson know you support it by calling him/her or sending an email!
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Re: House defeats wilderness bill

Postby dave54 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:17 pm

It was simply too much of an omnibus bill. Break the bill into the component parts and let each section pass or fail on its own merits. We have added a lot of junk land to the National Wilderness Preservation System over the past several years -- areas that should not have been designated wilderness. Let's leave Wilderness status for the land that best needs it and where wilderness status is the best use of the land.

Designated wilderness are the crown jewels of our public lands. Don't cheapen and degrade the whole collection by adding cheap plastic trinkets.
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Senate moves forward on wilderness bill

Postby ERIC » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:41 am

Senate moves forward on wilderness bill

By MATTHEW DALY, The Associated Press
3:01 p.m. March 16, 200
9

WASHINGTON — The Senate is again moving forward on a stalled bill to set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness.

Senators endorsed the bill Monday on a test vote, setting up a vote on final approval later this week. The 73-21 vote was 13 more than the 60 votes needed to go forward with the bill.

The Senate approved the measure in January, but it was defeated last week in the House amid a partisan dispute over a plan to allow concealed, loaded guns in national parks.

The legislation – a package of about 170 separate bills – would confer the government's highest level of protection on land ranging from California's Sierra Nevada mountain range and Oregon's Mount Hood to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said he would do everything in his power to stop the bill or at least slow it down. He complained that Democratic leaders had not allowed lawmakers to amend the 1,200-page bill on the Senate floor.

Coburn called the bill an "anti-stimulus" that will erect new barriers to energy exploration and squander billions of taxpayer dollars on what he described as parochial programs and frivolous pet projects.

Supporters disputed that, calling the measure among the most important conservation bills debated in Congress in many years.

The bill would authorize one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in 25 years, blocking more than 2 million acres from development. Federal land in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia would win designation as wilderness, and more than 1,000 miles of rivers in nearly a dozen states would gain protections.

The bill also would let Alaska go forward with plans to construct a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge as part of a land swap that would transfer more than 61,000 acres to the federal government, much of it designated as wilderness, the government's highest level of protection.

Monday's vote was largely procedural. Senators stripped out language from a related bill passed in the House and substituted the Senate wilderness language. The bill includes an amendment by Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., clarifying that it would not impose new restrictions on hunting, fishing or trapping on federal land.

The amendment, pushed by the National Rifle Association, was seen as attempt to win backing from gun rights supporters.

By approving a previously passed House bill, lawmakers said they would be able to craft a rule in the House blocking amendments or other motions to derail the bill. Republicans used the threat of an amendment to allow loaded guns in national parks to defeat the wilderness bill last week.

If approved by the Senate, as expected, the measure could go to the House for final legislative approval by the end of the week.

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The bill is H.R. 146.

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Re: House defeats wilderness bill

Postby kgw » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:01 pm

I believe this bill has passed.
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Re: House defeats wilderness bill

Postby Matilda » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:10 am

Yes, it passed the Senate Thursday 3/19 and will now go back to the House, where it should easily pass since it needs just a regular majority (not 2/3) in its new form.
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Re: House defeats wilderness bill

Postby Matilda » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:38 pm

Passed in the House today, on its way to President Obama's desk. Here's an LA Times story: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... 0097.story
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Re: House defeats wilderness bill

Postby gdurkee » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:45 pm

Republicans used the threat of an amendment to allow loaded guns in national parks to defeat the wilderness bill last week.


That held up the vote for a number of days but, with that regulation just halted by a Federal judge ("astoundingly flawed"), the NRA apparently admitted temporary defeat and did not push to have this as a final part of the Wilderness bill. I understand they will, though, reintroduce it at a later time.

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