Democrats warned to push green bills fol­low­ing vic­tory

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Au­drey Hud­son

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.

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