Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 on House Floor – 170 Bills in One; Half Have Had No Hearings

By R.J. Smith:
S. 22, the giant Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, will go to the House floor today (Wednesday, March 11) under suspension of rules. This means debate will be limited to a mere 40 minutes and amendments will not be permitted. Congressmen will be asked to vote on the bill without knowing what is in the 1,294-page, 9-inch thick bill! Some 170 separate bills have all been rolled into this one omnibus. Nearly half of them have never had any hearings, review or mark-up in the House.

The major concern with the bill is the vast expansion of every sort of Federal land ownership, including new and expanded National Parks, National Trails, National Heritage Areas, National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, National Preserves, National Historical Parks, National Historic Sites, and more.

It creates 82 new Wild and Scenic Rivers including over a thousand miles of rivers.

It will also create millions of acres of new Wilderness Areas.

In addition, S. 22 will give legislative authority and statutory permanence to the National Landscape Conservation System. The NLCS was created by decree in June 2000 by then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. It effectively removed at least 26 million acres from BLM multiple-use management, giving these lands near-Wilderness status. Federal bureaucrats and environmentalists have longed to give this new land-management system official designation, placing it on a par with the National Park System and preventing future secretaries from opening the lands to even necessary and vital energy exploration.

This massive Omnibus bill would lock up millions of acres of land at the height of an economic recession and at a time the U.S. is struggling to improve energy security. Instead of creating jobs and increasing resources, energy supplies and wealth — it would destroy them. It will shut down cattle grazing, mining, timber harvest, energy exploration and production and recreation.

And it will add another $10-12 billion of Federal spending.

Hundreds of millions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas will be locked up. It will kill a vital new Liquefied Natural Gas terminal/port in Massachusetts so that Congressman Barney Frank — who frequently rails against oil companies for pushing energy prices higher — won’t have it spoil his view.

The Omnibus creates a new Coastal and Estuarine Conservation program as well.

It also includes provsions providing Global Warming and Climate Change programs on public lands.

Under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act it makes it a Federal crime to collect or pick up fossils or fossilized rocks on any Federal lands. It will become a Federal crime for school children to collect fossilized sharks’ teeth. And in a scary twist it would extend civil asset forfeiture, permitting the government to seize ownership of all vehicles and equipment used in the gathering of any fossilized material.

The good news is that because the bill is coming up under suspension, it requires a 2/3 vote of the House of Representatives. This means only 146 votes against the bill will be sufficient to derail it.

Please spread the word about this bill and encourage people to contact their Congressman. Because it is coming up tomorrow, time is of the essence.

Thanks for your help.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow R.J. Smith. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

Update here.
Labels: Congress, Environment, Government Power, Land, Property Rights, Regulation

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