House Rejection of Interior Appropriations Bill Builds Environmental Momentum in Budget Battle

Conservationist Reaction:

(11/15/1995) - Washington, DC -- Conservationists say the vote by the House of Representatives this evening to return Interior appropriations legislation to conference for the second time builds the momentum of both Congress and the White House to oppose radical anti-environmental riders found in a number of appropriations and budget bills.

Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen said, "This victory is a sign of more to come during consideration of budget and appropriations bills. Rider by rider, bill by bill, we will expose and defeat the sneak campaign against our wildlife, parks, refuges, and forests. Tonight 230 members of the House -- including 48 Republicans -- rejected the Interior appropriations conference report for two simple reasons: it's anti-environmental and it's a sham -- an attempt to hide and expedite massive changes in environmental policy by attaching them to appropriations."

Schlickeisen, a former top official at the Office of Management and Budget, said that in defeating this conference report, "A majority of the House not only has rejected environmental destruction, but also demanded open and honest debate on these critical issues. This vote will build momentum in Congress and further strengthen the President's resolve to oppose the radical anti-environmentalists."

By a bipartisan vote of 230 to 199, the House voted to re-commit the conference report for the second time. On September 29, the House voted 277 to 147 to insist that its conferees restore the House-passed mining patenting moratorium. However, the revised conference report rejected by the House would have:

  • required the Forest Service to increase logging by 44 percent in our nation's largest forest -- the Tongass in Alaska -- despite the recommendations of scientists. Sufficiency language would mean that environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act would be suspended to carry out the logging and private landowners, environmentalists, and other citizens would be prevented from suing the federal government.
  • applied the patent moratorium only to some new patents, allowing the continued removal of tens of millions of dollars of minerals from public lands -- mostly by foreign corporations -- with almost no return to American
  • taxpayers.

  • imposed a moratorium on listings of endangered species and protection of critical habitat for species already listed, even if it meant extinction for those species. slashed funding for the new Mojave National Park Preserve in California and prevented its transfer to the Park Service.

The motion to re-commit calls for real mining reform and striking the provisions on the Tongass but does not deal specifically with all the other riders.