Friday, May 20, 2011

Congress sees NM border wilderness bill again

A bill to designate wilderness on public lands, including in the Organ Mountains, was re-introduced Thursday in Congress, New Mexico's senators announced. The legislation, S. 1024, has a different title but is the same version of a Do a Ana County wilderness bill that expired in the waning days of the 111th Congress last December, said Jude McCartin, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., also is sponsoring the most recent legislation, which would create some 241,000 acres of wilderness and another 100,000 acres of national conservation area in Do a Ana County. Currently no wilderness exists in the county. Bingaman, who plans to retire at the end of 2012, chairs the Senate's natural resources panel, which vets public lands bills. Thursday's legislation, called the Organ Mountains - Do a Ana County Conservation and Protection Act, will remain active through the close of the 112th Congress, also at the end of 2012. Under Bingaman and Udall's bill, wilderness designations would cover three main areas: the Potrillo Mountains in the southwest part of the county; the Organ Mountains west of Las Cruces; and a region around the Robledo Mountains, Broad Canyon and the Sierra de Las Uvas Mountains, located northwest of Las Cruces...more

Looks like Senator Bingaman and his lapdog, little Tommy You-Dull, will make another run at this.

I believe the legislation as a stand alone bill would have problems passing the Senate. I'm absolutely positive it will not pass the House. That leaves only one option - an Omnibus Public Lands Bill. They will package this bill with many others and hope they can generate enough support to pass it. Most of the action will probably come next year as the legislative session is closing down and the retiring Bingaman will lobby to get these bills through as part of his legacy.

It appears to be essentially the same bill that died in the last Congress, which means it is inadequate on border security and flood control, will harm the historic ranches in the area, and is a threat to the future growth of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County.

The text of the bill is not yet available from the Library of Congress, so I will withhold any specific comments until I can read the bill.

It's very apparent that Senator Bingaman realizes the Border Security issue is an impediment to his passing the bill. Take a look at the joint press release issued by the Senators here. Border Security is in the title, the release contains 662 words, and 371 of those words are about Border Security.

Line officers in the Border Patrol and retired Border Patrol officials will continue to oppose this wilderness bill for public safety and national security reasons.

In the end, we will see which is more important to Congress - the safety of the public or Senator Bingaman's "legacy".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else see the pitiful irony of this news item on Bingaman pushing wilderness being followed by the headline "Escalating Drug Violence in Northern Mexico Overwhelms Authorities"? Kinda points out just how out of touch Mr. Bingaman is with the real world here.