Democrats warned to push green bills following victory
Environmental groups on Nov. 13 put the soon-to-be Democrat-led Congress on notice, saying they will no longer accept logging of national forests or drilling for oil on federal land.
And don’t think about stalling global-warming legislation, they warn.
Rep.JohnD.DingellofMichigan, who is in line to take over the House EnergyandCommerceCommittee, already has called for a hearing on global warming, but environmentalists say the U.S. needs limits for greenhouse emissions, not more “fact-finding.”
“The entire world’s efforts will likely collapse” if the U.S. does not voluntarily limit emissions, said Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.
“The Republican Congress has nowhad239fact-findinghearingson globalwarming.Ifanotherroundof fact-finding becomes the Democrats’ policy, they will have walked away from everything they have talked about for the past six years,” Mr. Clapp said.
Mike Daulton, director of conservation policy for the Audubon Society, says the new Democrat-led Congress must be about “building consensusacrossthepartisandivide andendtheoldenergypolicyofdrill, drill, drill.”
“Pombo is gone, and vanishing withhimishisextremeagenda,”said Mr. Daulton, referring to Rep. Richard W. Pombo, California RepublicanandchairmanoftheHouse Resources Committee, who lost his re-election bid.
“Crumbling wilderness areas are at risk” and must be protected from drilling, logging and gas exploration on public lands, Mr. Daulton said.
Anna Aurilio, with U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), said, “The message is clear” from the Nov. 7 election.
“We bird-dogged campaigns around the country in 50 of the most contested races,” and 19 candidates who supported the group’s energy platform were elected, she said.
“Energy was definitely a factor in many of the races,” she said.
Pollsters say about 3 percent of votershavelistedtheenvironmentas their top concern in recent exit polling.
The environmental groups also urged Democrats not to rewrite the Endangered Species Act as proposed by Mr. Pombo and other House Republicans.
“[President] Bush and Pombo haveanextremeagendatorewriteit. We expect oversight, not a rewrite,” Mr. Daulton said.
Rewriting the contentious act was a priority for Republicans, as well as approving new oil drilling in Alaska and logging in forests that have been devastated by fires. The Republican-controlled House was successful in reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, first enacted in 1989.
Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said the farm bill expires next year and will also be on their wish list to include more dollars to conserve farmland rather than plant commodity crops.
“Thereisalongoverduechangein the way Congress has conducted its business over the past dozen years,” said Betsy Loyless, senior vice president of the Audubon Society.