Thursday, January 06, 2011

Utah Republican to attack Interior wilderness policy with ‘whatever mechanism’ possible

A staunch House critic of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hopes to undermine a recent Interior policy change that paves the way for conserving large areas in western states without a formal wilderness designation by Congress. “It is so bad we will use whatever mechanism is possible,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), when asked Wednesday about legislative efforts to block the policy. Bishop chairs the subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, which is a panel of the Natural Resources Committee. Salazar unveiled a plan last month that will allow Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to inventory and designate public lands as “wild lands” and protect their wilderness characteristics, which could stymie energy development and other uses. Bishop and other critics allege it’s an end-run around congressional power to designate which public lands have wilderness protections. “This is not the way to build trust with Congress, and this is not good policy,” Bishop told reporters in the Capitol. He plans hearings on the matter and alleges the policy will harm education by blocking activities that bring in local revenues in western regions...more

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