Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:00 am Post subject:
Passed, $10 friggen billon its going to cost You and ME
2 million acres taken, And Obama will most likely sign it
Plan to Set Aside More Wilderness Land Advances in U.S. Senate
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By Lorraine Woellert and Brian Faler
Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate, in its first order of business this year, advanced a $10 billion conservation plan that would set aside more than 2 million acres of natural wilderness and protect 1,000 miles of scenic rivers.
The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, the first piece of legislation considered by the new Senate, combines about 160 individual environmental bills in nearly 1,300 pages.
The measure “is possibly the most significant conservation legislation passed by the Senate in the past decade,” Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the bill’s chief sponsor, said on the Senate floor today. Two days ago, Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, said the measure was “developed on a bipartisan basis” and approved by his committee in the last Senate.
The 66-12 vote overcame an effort by Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, to kill the legislation. The Senate will debate and vote on the bill’s passage this week.
Environmentalists led by the National Landscape Conservation System have rallied around the legislation. The group is an alliance of 80 environmental groups including hunters, hikers, archaeologists and ranchers. One of the legislation’s central provisions would add 2 million acres in eight states to the National Wilderness Preservation System, which currently has 107 million acres in 44 states, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The package has drawn fire from several lawmakers and interest groups who say the conservation measures would restrict access to gas and coal reserves and deepen U.S. dependence on foreign energy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and fiscal watchdog Club for Growth are among those opposing the legislation.
Oil and Natural Gas
Coburn, citing data from the Bureau of Land Management, predicted that the legislation would take about 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 300 million barrels of oil out of production in Wyoming alone.
“The energy resources walled off by this bill would nearly match the annual production levels of our two largest natural gas production states--Alaska and Texas,” Coburn said in a written statement.
The bill also contains billions of dollars for special projects known as earmarks, including $1 billion for a California water project to protect salmon migration and $3.5 million for a commission to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Florida.
Gasoline prices reached a record in July last year before declining during the following months. The average per-gallon price peaked at $4.11, according to AAA, the largest U.S. motorist group. U.S. auto sales in December plunged 36 percent, leaving the industry’s 2008 sales volume at a 16-year low. Sales of the top model of trucks made by Ford Motor Co., based in Dearborn, Michigan, and Detroit-based GM, fell 25 percent last year.