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E-M:/ The week ahead

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Enviro-Mich folks:

When the Congress returns this week one of the top areas of attention will be
budget bills.  As has happened many times before, the Interior Budget bill,
 which also includes funding for several other departments, will be the site
of major fights over environmental issues.

Because the Interior Budget bill is currently in the Senate and action is
expected as soon as Wednesday, Sept. 8,  Senators Carl Levin and Spencer
Abraham need to hear from Michigan residents about these issues.  

Phone calls to both Senators can be made by calling the Capitol Switchboard at

Below is an excerpt from a summary about the Interior Budget bill, with some
of the lowlights and hoped for highlights spelled out.  No bill numbers are
attached here, but the staff will know what you are talking about.

Anne Woiwode

 * The Interior FY 2000 spending bill is expected to be one of the first 
 orders of business on Wednesday. We expect this bill to be the first item 
 taken up when the Senate reconvenes on Sept. 8.  The bill is scheduled to be 
 taken up at 1:00 pm.  Numerous anti-environmental riders.
 Attached here is an edited excerpt from EESI explaining the bill in a bit more
 The bill has prompted a White House veto threat for its controversial 
 environment-related provisions and low funding of administration-requested 
 programs. In particular, the administration's "Lands Legacy" program - which 
 aims to bring $1 billion more in funding for land acquisition, state 
 conservation programs, endangered species protection and other preservation 
 goals - only received $263 million in the Senate measure, according to a 
 statement from the Office of Management and Budget issued July 26.
 "It would be short-sighted to gut the important Lands Legacy initiative, 
 given the growing bipartisan recognition of the need for the federal 
 government, the states and the private sector to protect open spaces and 
 preserve America's great places," OMB said.
 In addition, the administration listed "some objectionable riders," including 
 one reversing the Interior solicitor's opinion to reinforce mill site limits 
 to five acres per mining claim, which opponents say would change existing 
 mining law without going through the proper legislative process.
 Other contentious provisions would extend the life of grazing permits while 
 the Bureau of Land Management reviews them, which opponents say would exempt 
 the permits from environmental laws; deny funding of national forest 
 management plan revisions until permanent planning regulations are completed, 
 which critics say would prevent new science from being integrated into plans; 
 and impose a 120-day comment period for a report on the Interior Columbia 
 Basin Ecosystem Management Project, which the administration says would stall 
 ICBEMP's conclusions by six months.

 Additional amendments that are anticipated to be offered include one that 
 would allocate $30 million to the state side of the Land and Water 
 Conservation Fund, which provides money for federal land acquisition along 
 with matching grants to states for land purchases and conservation planning; 
 another that would fund the empty Urban Park and Recreation Recovery program 
 with $4 million; and a third that would cut funding from the Forest Service's 
 timber sale program and the roads reconstruction/construction account by 
 $33.6 million and redirect the money toward debt reduction, road maintenance, 
 and fish and wildlife restoration.

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