- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Environmental groups yesterday put the soon-to-be Democrat-led Congress on notice, saying they will no longer accept logging of national forests or drilling for oil on federal land.

And don’t think about stalling global-warming legislation, they warn.

Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan, who is in line to take over the House Energy and Commerce Committee, already has called for a hearing on global warming, but environmentalists say the U.S. needs limits for greenhouse emissions, not more “fact-finding.”

“The entire world’s efforts will likely collapse” if the U.S. does not voluntarily limit emissions, said Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

“The Republican Congress has now had 239 fact-finding hearings on global warming. If another round of fact-finding becomes the Democrats’ policy, they will have walked away from everything they have talked about for the past six years,” Mr. Clapp said.

Mike Daulton, director of conservation policy for the Audubon Society, says the new Democrat-led Congress must be about “building consensus across the partisan divide and end the old energy policy of drill, drill, drill.”

“Pombo is gone, and vanishing with him is his extreme agenda,” said Mr. Daulton, referring to Rep. Richard W. Pombo, California Republican and chairman of the House Resources Committee, who lost his re-election bid last week.

“Crumbling wilderness areas are at risk” and must be protected from drilling, logging and gas exploration on public lands, Mr. Daulton said.

Anna Aurilio, with U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), said, “The message is clear” from last week’s election.

“We bird-dogged campaigns around the country in 50 of the most contested races,” and 19 candidates who supported the group’s energy platform were elected, she said.

“Energy was definitely a factor in many of the races,” she said.

Pollsters say about 3 percent of voters have listed the environment as their top concern in recent exit polling.

The environmental groups also urged Democrats not to rewrite the Endangered Species Act as proposed by Mr. Pombo and other House Republicans.

“[President] Bush and Pombo have an extreme agenda to rewrite it. We expect oversight, not a rewrite,” Mr. Daulton said.

Rewriting the contentious act was a priority for Republicans, as well as approving new oil drilling in Alaska and logging in forests that have been devastated by fires. The Republican-controlled House was successful in reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, first enacted in 1989.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said the farm bill expires next year and will also be on their wish list to include more dollars to conserve farmland rather than plant commodity crops.

“There is a long overdue change in the way Congress has conducted its business over the past dozen years,” said Betsy Loyless, senior vice president of the Audubon Society.

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