Reversal of Environment Initiatives Is Proposed: Key GOP Lawmaker Outlines Plan to Bush
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Source: Common Dreams
Published on Thursday, January 4, 2001 in the Washington Post
Reversal of Environment Initiatives Is
Key GOP Lawmaker Outlines Plan to Bush
by Juliet Eilperin
In a private letter to President-elect Bush, the incoming chairman of the House Resources
Committee has proposed dismantling a wide variety of Clinton administration environmental
Rep. James V. Hansen (R-Utah), who is expected to be named Resources chairman by
House leaders today, expressed the hope that lawmakers and the incoming administration
could work to reverse some of Clinton's most prominent conservation efforts.
The suggestions, outlined in an eight-page letter, include everything from relaxing a ban on
snowmobile use in some national parks to removing some of the national monument
designations the president had given public lands in recent years.
"After many years of being frustrated by the Clinton administration's unreasoned and
frequently absurd interpretation of law and congressional intent, I am elated at finally having
the opportunity to work with your administration to correct the misguided direction the
Clinton administration has taken in their attempt to manage our natural resources," Hansen
wrote Bush and Vice President-elect Cheney on Dec. 27.
The 11-term Republican, who has publicly attacked Clinton's environmental agenda over the
past eight years, indicated that he and Cheney have already discussed how to address one
of the outgoing administration's most controversial policies: declaring large wilderness areas
Hansen noted that since the monument declarations made this year are still in the planning
stages, Congress will have "an opportunity to review these designations in detail and make
Hansen and his aides did not return telephone calls for comment yesterday.
The letter sparked an immediate outcry from environmentalists such as Rep. George Miller
(D-Calif.), who served as the ranking Democrat on the Resources Committee during the
"He wants to repeal the last eight years and much of the environmental progress we have
had over the past 25 years," Miller said. "This is just a dream wish list for the mining, oil,
gas and timber industries."
Hansen also proposed blocking new regulations that would limit hardrock mining -- a
practice opponents decry as environmentally destructive -- and rules limiting the number of
air tours that can be conducted over the Grand Canyon and other national parks.
In addition, Hansen suggested using a formula that would be more advantageous to the oil
and gas industries in calculating how much companies have to pay the federal government
for operating on public lands.
These issues were sources of constant friction between the GOP-controlled Congress and
the Clinton administration over the past six years.
Miller said that, while the missive should "strike fear into the hearts" of environmentalists,
he is confident a bipartisan group of lawmakers will stop the new Bush administration from
enacting Hansen's proposals.
"He doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell," Miller said. "The largest bipartisan coalition
in the Congress is for environmental protection. It was there under [former House speaker]
Newt Gingrich, and it's there today."
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
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