Thursday, March 26, 2009

House Votes to Protect 2 Million Acres of Wilderness

The U.S. House passed a conservation plan that will protect 2 million acres of natural wilderness and preserve monuments, trails and rivers across the country. The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, approved today 285-140, goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. The measure combines more than 160 environmental bills in 1,294 pages to conserve water and protect 1,000 miles of scenic rivers. It would block mining and drilling on millions of acres of land. The measure authorizes up to $10 billion in spending for wildlife and land protection. It would add 2 million acres, or about 800,000 hectares, in nine states to the National Wilderness Preservation System. That system currently consists of 10 million acres, or about 4 million hectares, in 44 states. Opponents of the plan said it had not been properly vetted for wasteful spending and that it would block access to tens of millions of acres of natural gas and oil reserves. Representative Tom McClintock, a California Republican, called the bill a “massive land grab.” On the House floor, he said the public good is not served by “mindless and endless acquisition of property” that blocks access to natural gas and other resources. The House rejected an amendment from Representative Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, to allow people to carry concealed weapons into national parks. The provision would have reversed an Interior Department firearms policy...Bloomberg

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