BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT! - Update on Omnibus Public Lands Legislation

The Lyin King

Public Lands Advocate

Update on Omnibus Public Lands Legislation

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

Greg Mumm called early this morning with an update on the Omnibus Public Lands bill. I thought I'd pass it along to our Action Alert subscribers. Greg said there is a lot of uncertainty about where this massive bill goes next. Greg wanted me to caution BRC's members: the omnibus package is far from dead and the Wilderness lobby is working hard to jam it through without the normal congressional review process.

An article by Noelle Straub and Eric Bontrager from E&E news (E&E Publishing -- The Premier Information Source for Professionals Who Track Environmental and Energy Policy.) quoted West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall as saying he knew the vote was close, but that "a lot of groups came out of the woodwork" in the final days leading up to the vote. The article also quoted Utah Congressman Rob Bishop as saying it was a mistake for the Senate to pass such a large package. "If they have to lump these bills together, they could easily pass it by removing any bills members object to, which would truly make it a noncontroversial bill," Bishop was reported as saying.

In order to be passed, normal House rules would have to be suspended, which require a two-thirds majority vote. The final vote was 282 to 144, one vote short of the 2/3 margin.

Straub and Bontrager reported that an amendment to ensure no public lands were closed to hunting and fishing, offered by Pennsylvania Congressman Jason Altmire, was a key factor in the vote. The story also speculated on possible scenarios where the bill may still pass under "closed rules."

It is clear that the legislation contained in the omnibus package is not dead. Worse, possible scenarios are being considered that will prohibit full review as well as opportunity to offer amendments.

BRC will keep our members posted and let you know the next development in this bizarre chapter in public land politics.

Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102

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