Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Big Green tries for big payoff with Lame Duck bonanza (Bingaman's Omnibus Bill)

Before the 2010 mid-term elections, three affiliated Big Green groups considered their post-election strategy. The Pew-supported Campaign for America's Wilderness and its paid public communications contractors -- The Wilderness Society and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance -- realized things did not look good for their Democrat allies. By Election Day, they had prepared to make the most of the debacle's fallout. On November 10, after weeks of busy orchestration, William H. Meadows -- president of the Wilderness Society and chairman of Pew's Campaign for America's Wilderness -- led a carefully selected coalition of 172 environmental groups from 41 states in writing a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership asking Congress to use its Lame Duck session to pass an omnibus land law. One of the groups signing the letter was the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Two days later, New Mexico Democrat Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, confirmed that he was bundling more than 60 of his committee's bills to create new national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries into an omnibus measure for Senate passage before the 111th Congress adjourns. That's too many coincidences, but nobody noticed last Monday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledged to move a gigantic "Frankenstein" package of 100-plus land grab bills from three Senate committees -- and do it within two weeks. And a trick it is. Bill Wicker, spokesman for Bingaman, said with a straight face that the panel's bills "are not controversial," and "many were approved with no opposition." Bingaman's "Organ Mountains -- Desert Peaks Wilderness" bill was so controversial that my recent Examiner expose of its dangers was reprinted in a New Mexico newspaper (and in dozens of blogs) and generated a storm of alarmed reader comments...more

Mr. Arnold again points out the money connection, writing:

While dithering about whether it will pass, we really ought to ask, "Who paid for this omnibus campaign, anyway?" The seven private Pew Trusts and their public charity, $4.6 billion assets. The Wilderness Society, $55.4 million assets. Campaign for America's Wilderness, $4.2 million assets. New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, $1.1 million revenue. It's almost like asking, "Who owns the Democrats?"

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