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WildAlert Archive

UPDATE: Interior bill passes Congress--good news

* Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Dear WildAlert Subscriber,

Happy Thanksgiving, and some good news to share. Congress finally passed an FY2000 Omnibus Appropriations bill last Friday, including Interior Appropriations funding. Many of the worst anti-environmental riders were removed from the bill on the insistence of President Clinton, thanks in large part to the thousands of letters, faxes, and phone calls he received from citizens nationwide. Thanks to all of you who contacted the President -- it made a difference!!

Even better, the Administration secured funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that was *higher* than what had been included in the last version of the bill!

While there are a few disappointments, the White House deserves credit for negotiating away or weakening many of the worst riders. You can send thanks to the President at,
where you can find more details on what was included in the final bill.


Among the many positive highlights to the bill:
Lands Legacy: LWCF funding totaled about $460 million -- roughly $420 million for federal acquisitions and $40 million for "state-side" programs -- or a total increase of over $75 million over last year. Most notable were full funding for the purchase of the Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico ($101 million), and the reemergence of the "state-side" program at $40 million (from $20 million in the last version of the bill, the first such funding in 4 years). Although the bill didn't include the President's full request, it represents a significant victory for land conservation. (FYI, a bill is still moving through Congress to make LWCF fully funded and more permanent.)

Riders: The oil royalties rider only prevents new regulations through March 15 (as opposed to a full year originally). A rider allowing mine waste dumping on public lands was modified, effectively cutting the number of exempt sites dramatically. The Grand Canyon, Columbia River, Pacific salmon, and grizzly riders, among others, were dropped altogether. And hard rock mining reform will become effective in April (delayed in original rider).

Last minute riders: were also avoided --including one that would have allowed mining companies to remove mountain tops and dump the debris in adjacent streams, violating the Clean Water Act. An attempt by the timber industry to monkey wrench the President's plan to protect the last remaining roadless areas on the National Forest System was also turned back.

The greatest disappointment was a rider allowing the Bureau of Land Management to reissue grazing permits for up to 10 years without completing environmental reviews normally required by law.

For more details on specific riders and LWCF funding, go to


The Administration performed a stellar job in negotiations with Congress to protect the environment in the Interior bill. So we're asking you to send a thank-you message to Pres. Clinton for his efforts. This kind of positive feedback is critical, not only as thanks for the actions just taken, but to demonstrate that citizens nationwide consider protecting the environment a national priority in future actions by the Administration.

You can send a message from,
or contact the White House at:

Street address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Wash, DC 20500
Phone: (202) 456-1414


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