Tuesday, January 25, 2011

House Dems defend Interior wilderness policy

Nearly 50 House Democrats are defending an Interior Department policy aimed at increasing protection of public lands that have not received an official wilderness designation from Congress. In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week, Democrats led by House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Edward Markey (D-Mass.) say the "wild lands" policy restores balance to public lands management that was missing in the Bush era. Salazar’s action last month upended a 2003 agreement between then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the state of Utah that became known as the “no more wilderness” policy. “The decision by former Secretary [Gale] Norton to settle litigation in Utah by unilaterally declaring that the Department of the Interior would no longer seek protection for new areas of public land exhibiting wilderness characteristics exceeded the scope of the litigation and abdicated the Department’s statutory responsibilities,” the Jan. 19 letter from 47 Democrats states...more

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