October 6, 2008

Cheney Lauds Bailout Action

By Sean Whaley



RENO - Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday told an audience at the Silver Legacy Hotel that the financial rescue package Congress finally approved "clearly serves the national interest."

Cheney, who was speaking at a wildlife policy conference, touched briefly on the measure as the vote was under way in the U.S. House.

"Nobody is happy about the current mess on Wall Street, but without decisive action by the government, there is a real concern the problems we're seeing today could get much worse," he said.

Cheney spent much of his speech at the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy providing a report on the accomplishments of the Bush administration in the area of wildlife conservation.

The president "has spent eight years encouraging the spirit of cooperative conservation, engaging the whole nation and making sure voices like yours are heard in the corridors of power," he said.

The administration set and has met goals to improve habitat, enlarge wildlife populations and increase opportunities for Americans to enjoy the outdoors, he said.

Cheney also praised groups represented at the two-day conference, such as Ducks Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

"Sportsmen tend to be the best informed and most determined advocates for sensible wildlife and habitat conservation," he said. "You've proven that the people who are closest to the land are usually the ones who do the most for the land."

Cheney also took the opportunity to call for more efforts to expand energy production on the nation's public lands.

He said the administration is working to finalize a memorandum of understanding with the nation's Western governors on energy exploration.

"Both Democrats and Republicans understand this nation can produce more oil and gas and we can do it in an environmentally responsible way," Cheney said. "We have a responsibility to meet more of our own energy needs with American wells, American pipelines and American refineries."

One critic of the gathering was the leader of a group working to save the sage grouse, a game bird being considered for federal protection due to the loss of its habitat across much of the West.

The conference "is a weak attempt to paper over extraordinary habitat destruction that has occurred under the current administration and avoid the need to protect species such as sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act," said Mark Salvo, director of WildEarth Guardians' Sagebrush Sea Campaign based in Phoenix.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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