- Prison inmates take up ‘Knockout’ game, target female officers
- U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser
- John Kerry: Israel-Palestinian peace deal paved for April
- India diplomat who touts women’s rights busted for $3 wage to nanny
- MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid $252K by unions in 2012-2013
- Korean War memorial ordered to take down Christian cross
- Billy Graham near death, ‘close to going home to be with the Lord’
- SeaTac, Wash.: City’s new $15 minimum wage heads to court
- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
- Obama ‘birther’ theories float as Hawaii health director killed in crash
Environmentalists suffer on key budget provisions
Resolution prohibits ‘wild lands’ policy funding
DENVER | The biggest losers in the federal budget deal may have been environmentalists, who suffered setbacks not only with cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget but also with the shellacking of two of the movement’s pet programs.
The Continuing Resolution includes a provision that prohibits funding for the so-called “wild lands” policy, an Obama administration initiative that allows the Interior Department to confer special protections on federal lands without congressional approval.
The resolution also removes the gray wolf of the Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list and allows for state management, which would include managed hunts for the wolves, a species that once was decimated but now thrives.
The additions came as unexpected defeats for the environmental movement, which has enjoyed a series of victories for the past two years under Democratic rule. The Wilderness Society issued a statement Tuesday saying that the resolution “attempts to roll back the clock and open up our wildest lands to drilling and destruction.”
“We are very disappointed by the restrictive language regarding the Wild Lands policy,” said Wilderness Society President William H. Meadows in a statement. “The fact is that the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] has a legal obligation to protect America’s most sensitive public lands, and we will continue to work to make sure those lands are protected by congressional or administrative decisions.”
For Western conservatives, however, the resolution came as a reprieve, albeit a brief one. Last week’s budget deal extends only to Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, after which the 2012 budget must be negotiated.
“I think it’s fine, but it’s also temporary,” said Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association in Battle Ground, Wash. “It gives us some breathing room for the time being. You don’t think the other side is going to sit still for this, do you?”
Western Republicans have blasted the wild-lands policy not only for its content but also for how it was issued, which happened a few days before Christmas while Congress was in recess. The initiative gives the Bureau of Land Management broad authority to identify and restrict access to wild lands with “wilderness characteristics.”
The result would be restrictions on multiple-use activities such as mining, grazing, vehicle access and recreation. Federal lands may now be protected by being designated as wilderness areas, but such a designation requires an act of Congress.
“It smells bad and it is bad from a process perspective,” said Holly Propst, executive director of the Western Business Roundtable in Lakewood, Colo.
Seven Western Republican governors signed a letter in February insisting that Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar withdraw the initiative. The Utah Association of Counties filed a lawsuit claiming the policy circumvents congressional authority, and the state of Utah is likely to follow.
At the center of the congressional action was Rep. Michael K. Simpson, Idaho Republican, who inserted the wild-lands language into the final House budget bill, saying that the Interior Department “has overstepped its authority.”
“Only Congress has the authority to create new land designations, and I intend to restore that authority by including this provision in the continuing resolution,” Mr. Simpson said in a statement Tuesday.
Western states have fought for years for the authority to manage their wolf populations, and at one point they had it. The Fish and Wildlife Service had issued an order delisting wolves in Idaho and Montana in 2009, stating that the species had met or exceeded its recovery goals, but a 2010 federal court decision placed them back on the endangered species list.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy rejected a proposed settlement between the federal government and environmental groups that would have resumed state management in Idaho and Montana.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- DIVEST! Oil is the new apartheid on college campuses
- Californians encouraged to get the Christmas gift that gives all year long: Obamacare
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Fast-food protests spur backlash
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
Latest Blog Entries
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- U.S. Navy-China showdown: Chinese try to halt U.S. cruiser in international waters
- Obama birther theories float as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- House budget bargain faces Senate filibuster; Republicans line up to oppose
- PRUDEN: The last living witnesses; they wore the yellow star and remember the Nazi terror
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- North Korea's official report on Jang Song Thaek
- Billy Graham near death, close to going home to be with the Lord
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- James Bond: The spy who is really an alcoholic
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Our Choice: Individual responsibility and self-government or the abandonment of the American Revolution
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
John Glaser turns his pen toward foreign policy and international relations around the world
A conservative commentator and satirist takes on the worlds of politics and entertainment in pursuit of truth, justice and all things America.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow