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Lands bill advances, despite Coburn’s pleas

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: January 12, 2009 at 4:42 am •  Published: January 12, 2009
ff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Sunday the bills in the package were the result of years of hearings and meetings and were approved by lawmakers from the states affected by them. And he said they represented "possibly the most significant conservation legislation passed by the Senate in the last decade.”

As a whole, Bingaman said the package would add more than 2 million acres to the National Wildlife Preservation System, 1,000 miles to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and more than 2,800 miles to the National Trails System.

He said the bill also addressed water resources issues in numerous states.

All 12 senators who voted against advancing the legislation on Sunday were Republicans.

Separate bills advised
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, backed Coburn’s effort and said, "This bill is a combination of dozens of smaller bills, which should be considered separately and would most likely pass with overwhelming support. For example, there is a provision in the bill which benefits Oklahoma City water supplies, something Congresswoman Mary Fallin and I have long worked to enact.

"Unfortunately, there are other provisions in this massive bill that would hinder domestic energy production and place millions of more acres under the jurisdiction of the United States government, costing taxpayers billions to maintain each year.”

About the lands bill
The measure would confer government protection on land ranging from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range to Oregon’s Mount Hood, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, and parts of Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest. Land in Idaho’s Owyhee canyons, Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Utah’s Zion National Park would be deemed wilderness. The childhood home of President Bill Clinton in Hope, Ark., would be a national historic site.

The Associated Press

"In a time of economic turmoil, the United States Senate has bigger fish to fry than a pork-laden omnibus lands bill that puts parochial projects that spend $1 billion to rescue 500 salmon in California ahead of our serious economic challenges."
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn R-Muskogee

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