Monday, March 16, 2009

Omnibus lands bill fails in House

The giant omnibus lands bill, S-22, that passed the US Senate easily, was defeated in the House last week, 282-144. The bill combines160 public lands, water and resources bills from across the country, including reauthorization of the National Geologic Mapping Act that funds much of the geologic mapping we and other geological surveys do in most states.

The massive bill was intended to offer something for everyone to attract votes, but House members argued that many of the bills in the 1,200 page package had never been heard in the House. E&E News says, "The omnibus would designate more than 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states and would establish three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers and four new national trails. It would enlarge the boundaries of more than a dozen existing national park units and establish 10 new national heritage areas. It would also authorize numerous land exchanges and conveyances to help local Western communities and address water resource and supply issues, and includes provisions to improve land management."

An amendment was added to ensure that the bill would not close off lands that are already open to hunting and fishing, but that wasn't enough.

The Senate may add an Idaho wilderness provision, and attach the ominbus to another bill already in the pipeline, in an effort to produce something more attractive to the House.

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