Rep. Pat Williams (D-Mont.) convinced Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman this fall to administratively prevent most destructive activities in 1.7 million acres of Montana. This victory will protect Montana's remaining roadless lands from such activities as logging, oil-and-gas development and road construction until Congress acts on Williams' legislation that would designate the area as wilderness -- or until the administration changes.
Two extremist House leaders, Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), introduced a bill in September, H.R. 2275, that would gut the Endangered Species Act. The bill abandons the ESA's basic goal of species recovery and declares that habitat has nothing to do with species survival, despite a recent National Academy of Sciences study that found habitat destruction to be the most serious threat to U.S. endangered species.
When both House and Senate introduced budget measures in September to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups urged President Clinton to uphold his campaign promise to prevent drilling there -- by declaring the refuge a national monument. In response to public support for the refuge, the White House has announced that Clinton will veto the Budget Reconciliation bill if it contains language that would open the refuge to oil-and-gas drilling.
Hundreds of clean water supporters gathered in Seattle, Wash., on August 27 to rally against the "Dirty Water Bill" passed by the House in May. After the rally, activists scattered to beaches and lakes where they encouraged recreationists to sign postcards urging their representatives to fight for clean water. Also in August, a Club-led clean water rally in Flint, Mich., fired up locals and made a big media splash.
Thanks to constituent pressure, the Senate's subcommittee on Foreign Operations voted 11 to 1 to earmark $350 million for the Office of Population. The Subcommittee also voted by an 8 to 5 margin to restore funding for the United Nations Populations Fund, the branch of the U.N. that provides health, reproductive health, family planning, maternal and infant survival programs to 140 nations.
A Senate vote in late September on federal agency appropriations radically scaled back funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. A companion bill passed by the House this summer would hamstring the EPA even further. In early October, the House rejected a conference committee compromise for the Interior Appropriations bill over a mining provision that would give away minerals to miners free, requiring them only to pay for the surface land of mining claims. While Club leaders cheered the decision, they say the mining provision was only one of many flaws in the bill, which include dramatic increases of clearcutting in Alaska's Tongass National Forest and a moratorium on the listing of endangered species. At press time, Club leaders were urging President Clinton to follow through on his promise to veto both the EPA Appropriations and Interior Appropriations bills.
In a groundbreaking September article, Newsweek carried the analysis that "the public is more tolerant of environmental regulations than conservatives think" and that moderate Republicans might soon take on their conservative colleagues who are determined to undo environmental protections.
Sierra Student Coalition Conservation Director David Wise organized an environmental relay race and a "dirty water dunk tank" at a Rhode Island summer camp. In Providence, other SSC members gave away free black "sno-cones" on the streets to publicize the 104th Congress' attempts to turn over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil-and-gas drilling.
With a coalition of Nevadans, Club leaders from southern California and Nevada kicked off an effort to hold Rep. John Ensign (R-Nev.) accountable for his recent anti-environmental votes. The coalition took to the airwaves this summer with a series of radio ads in Las Vegas, Ensign's district, telling voters how Ensign voted in favor of "riders" to the EPA spending bill that would render environmental laws impossible to carry out.
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