WaMo: The Emerging Environmental Majority

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This is just a quick link to a great story:

Today’s GOP-controlled Congress has shown itself to be no friend of the environment, but even by conservatives’ own standards, last October’s surprise was a standout. An amendment inserted at the last minute into a budget reconciliation bill would have opened up millions of acres of public lands, including tracts in national monuments and wilderness areas, to purchase by mining companies and other commercial interests. It was to be the biggest divestiture of public lands in almost a century, and it was happening completely under the radar, with no floor vote, no public hearings, and no debate.

A petition signed by 758 sportsmen’s clubs affiliated with National Wildlife Federation, from the Great Falls Bowhunters Association to the Custer Rod and Gun Club, landed on elected officials’ desks in Washington just weeks later. “These lands, so important to sportsmen and women, are open to every American, rich and poor alike,” the letter read. “We believe it is wrong to put them up for mining companies and other commercial interests to buy at cut-rate prices.”

The outcry from rural and exurban voters achieved what no amount of lobbying from environmentalists in Washington alone could have. Within weeks, western Republican senators renounced the measure on the Senate floor and to their hometown newspapers. As Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) told the Billings Gazette, “The local folks most impacted by a sale have to be on board.” The measure was then effectively dead—within weeks the language was withdrawn from the House bill.

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