March 26, 2009

Congress Approves Massive Conservation Package

Congress on Wednesday approved a package of nearly 170 bills that is being touted as one of the most important land and water conservation decisions in US history.

The House of Representatives approved the measure on a vote of 285-140 just a week after being passed by the Senate. The package contains measures to expand the US National Wilderness Preservation System and federally protect wilderness lands in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

These lands set aside by the package's provisions will be protected from oil and gas drilling as well as other development such as logging, mining and the building of new roads.

"I can't think of a single bill that has ever done more to ensure the enjoyment of, and access to, wilderness areas (and) historic sites," said Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Critics of the plan included mostly Republican members of Congress. They argued that the package would deny access to oil and gas drilling. They also pointed to a provision that would allow Alaska to build an airport access road in a wildlife refuge near the Bering Sea in exchange for another piece of federally protected land. Critics call the project the "road to nowhere."

"Future generations will look back at this day as a major milestone in our nation's conservation history," William Meadows, president of the Wilderness Society, told Reuters.

"It has been a long and difficult road, but today, Congress acted on behalf of hunters and anglers who understand the need for intact habitat," said Tom Reed of Trout Unlimited.

Climate Change Skeptics Address Lawmakers

Meanwhile, also in Washington, British aristocrat Lord Christopher Walter Monckton, presented a House hearing, titled "Adaptation Policies in Climate Legislation."

Monckton argued that for 14 years, "there has been no statistically significant global warming."

"The right response to the non-problem of global warming is to have the courage to do nothing," he told the Energy and Environment Subcommittee.'

The hearing looked at ways to approach President Obama's cap-and-trade proposal as a part of his new budget.

"Adaptation is at present unnecessary," said Lord Monckton. "Mitigation is always unnecessary. It is also disproportionately expensive.

"Green jobs are the new euphemism for mass unemployment," he said.

Pastor Calvin Beisner "“ national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance presented what he referred to as the "balanced Biblical view" for environmental policy.

"I am convinced that policies meant to reduce alleged carbon dioxide-induced global warming will be destructive," said Beisner.

"The Biblical world view sees Earth and its ecosystems as the effect of a wise God's creation and ... therefore robust, resilient, and self regulating, like the product of any good engineer."

"The truth is that no alternative fuels can compete at present with fossil fuels for price," he said.


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