Environment Under Attack Again in Interior Appropriations Bill
Senate Up To Its Old Tricks(06/24/1999) - Defenders of Wildlife panned today’s Senate markup of the FY 2000 Interior Appropriations Bill as "unfortunate business as usual." Citing multiple anti-environmental riders attached to the bill in subcommittee, Defenders warned of excessively damaging and dangerous, precedent-setting attacks on various aspects of the environment.
"Here we go again," said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife. "We’re on defense, trying to prevent the anti- environmental forces in Congress from rolling back environmental protections that the American public has stated time and again they want. These forces have learned that attacking our environmental laws outright is a terribly unpopular thing to do. That’s why they continue to resort to these secret, back-door tactics, hoping no one will notice."
During the Senate Appropriations full-committee markup today, at least ten anti-environmental riders were included. On Tuesday, the Senate Interior subcommittee attached nine riders to the Interior spending bill for FY 2000. The riders approved today ranged from attacks on grazing policy to national forest planning to site-specific riders such as one to increase red cedar harvest on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Two riders are of particular interest to Defenders. One is designed to prevent grizzly bear introduction in Montana and Idaho, and the other would undermine science-based management of national forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.
The rider to prevent grizzly introduction (Sec. 328) not only would be disastrous for grizzly recovery but also would set a very dangerous legal precedent. The rider would ensure that no grizzly bears could be introduced in Montana or Idaho without written consent from the governors of those states. This would create a situation in which a federal Endangered Species Act program on federal lands would be regulated by the states. In addition, this rider would derail a collaborative effort by local timber, conservation, and labor interests to restore grizzly bears to the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem in Idaho and Montana.
The rider that attacks science-based management of certain public lands (Sec. 329) aims to nullify a recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling and provides the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior broad discretion during FY 2000 to choose whether or not to collect any new, and potentially significant, information concerning wildlife resources on the National Forest System or BLM lands. The secretaries could exercise such discretion prior to amending or revising resource management plans, issuing leases, or otherwise authorizing or undertaking management activities.
"At least they’re consistent," said Schlickeisen. "Every year, they try these same closed-room, back-door tactics knowing that in a full floor debate, most of these measures would not stand a chance. So they throw them on as riders, hoping they’ll get lost in the shuffle and that no one will care. They’re wrong; we care, and the American public cares. Americans have a right to a strong environment and to a healthy natural heritage to pass on to their children. Congress needs to stop these sneak attacks on our environment and on our rights. And if it won’t do so, then the President has to use his veto pen."
FY 2000 Senate Interior Appropriations Bill
- would allow the Bureau
of Land Management to reauthorize grazing permits without allotment-specific
National Environmental Policy Act documents, Federal Land Policy Management Act
analysis or Endangered Species Act requirements through FY 1999 or until the
Bureau completes processing. This provision provides an escape clause for the
Bureau that allows it to delay the analysis required by the law as recently
interpreted by the courts.
This list was compiled by Defenders of Wildlife using write-ups received from numerous groups in the conservation community.
Contact(s):Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270