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Message - [arctic-action] Arctic Action #206: Congress Passes Omnibus Bill
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Posted by  Northern Alaska Environmental Center on February 15, 2003 at 22:54:24:


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CONGRESS PASSES OMNIBUS BILL
Mixed results on Anti-Environmental Measures

Last night after a "motion to recommit" failed along party lines in the
House of Representatives, the House and the Senate moved quickly to pass the
massive Omnibus spending bill.

Unfortunately, the bill passed with the following riders intact:

* Arctic National Wildlife Refuge language that strips a previous amendment
which specifically prohibited the use of any funds in the '03 budget bill
for "pre-leasing" activities. (See below for further explanation of what
this actually means.)

• Exempts renewal of the aging Trans Alaska Pipeline from environmental and
public review.

* The Stewardship Contracting rider turns management of public forests over
to the timber industry by allowing the agencies to enter into an unlimited
number of 10-year contracts with logging companies between now and 2013
letting them significantly increase logging on public lands with little
congressional oversight.

* Tongass Anti-Wilderness language intact which rubber-stamps a wilderness
review on the Tongass that is not even complete yet, precluding any appeals
or court actions regardless of potentially significant legal violations and
disdain of public comments.

However, there is some GOOD news as well. Because of the incredible
outpouring of support for the Tongass and Chugach National Forest some of
the most outrageous rainforest riders were defeated. In particular, against
great odds we succeeded in keeping 14.7 million acres of Alaska’s wild
rainforest protected under the landmark Roadless Rule.

As for the Arctic Refuge language, the Administration had sought funding in
the 2003 budget for the Bureau of Land Management to commence immediately
"pre-leasing" activities on the Arctic Refuge if Congress were also to pass
an Arctic Refuge drilling bill. Last July, the House of Representatives,
thanks to an amendment by Rep. David Obey, specifically prohibited the use
of any funds in this bill for such activities. And as we know, Congress has
not passed an Arctic Refuge drilling bill. While the budget bill that passed
last night stripped out Obey's amendment, it DID NOT authorize development
within the Refuge nor did it even allow planning activity for a future,
currently illegal, oil and gas lease sale. In other words, the Arctic
Refuge is still safe from development and, with your help, can continue to
be safe in the future!

SO THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT AND HELP! We must also thank the many
Democrats AND Republicans who worked hard to see that many of the worst
anti-environmental riders were removed from the bill before final passage.


Please Post and Distribute as Appropriate

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Arctic Action is a broadcast alert list managed by the Northern
Alaska Environmental Center and ONENorthwest to keep you updated on issues
affecting Alaska's Arctic wilderness.

 


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