Oct 16 2008
Highlights of Senator Reid's Omnibus Lands Grab and Energy Restrictions Act Scheduled for Debate Next Month
Reid's Emergency Session of Congress to Focus on His Priorities, Not American's
The Senate Majority Leader has announced his intentions to call back the Senate for a lame duck session in November to pass a 1,082 page bill that costs more than $8 billion, expands federal land control over millions of acres of U.S. property, and restricts energy exploration over millions of acres of U.S. territory. Attached is a detailed summary of the more than 100 provisions of the bill along with some highlights.
Highlights of the Omnibus Lands Grab and Energy Restrictions Act With families across the country struggling with their mortgages, excessive gas and food prices, and uncertain financial conditions, the Senate is scheduled to spend the few remaining legislative days of 2008 debating a bill that not only ignores these problems, but may exacerbate them.
The Senate Majority Leader has announced plans to force the chamber to pass an omnibus package containing over 100 bills, exceeding 1,000 pages in length, increasing government spending by more than $8 billion, prohibiting energy exploration on vast amounts of U.S. property, and adding even more restrictions for the use of millions of acres of federally managed lands.
The bill also includes a number of provisions that benefit the parochial pet interests of a few members of Congress, including:
· A $1 billion water project in California intended to settle a lawsuit with environmental groups. The minimum measurement of success outlined in the settlement is the restoration of 500 salmon.
· $1 million annually for a five year Wolf Compensation and Prevention Program designed to assist property owners with non-lethal efforts to prevent predatory behavior by wolves and a compensation program for those losing livestock and other animals to wolves.
· Conveys this land to Alaska to be used to construct a “road to nowhere” to connect King Cove (800 residents) to Cold Bay, so the residents of King Cove have access to the airport across the water in Cold Bay. The road would consist of a single lane and would require an estimated 17 miles of construction at $1-2 million per mile. In 1998, the Clinton administration provided $37 million for a hovercraft that would give King Cove residents access across the water to Cold Bay. The local government says the hovercraft costs about $100,000 a month to operate. King Cove also received an upgraded medical center. Residents say weather and high costs make the use of the hovercraft unpredictable. However, the proposed road may also be unusable in foul weather.
· $3.5 million to celebrate the 450th Anniversary of St Augustine, Florida in 2015. The City of St. Augustine celebrates its birthday every year and “the celebration grows each year.” This year included three full days of special events and a birthday party complete with cake and games. The events commemorate St. Augustine’s standing as the longest continually inhabited city founded by Europeans in what is now the United States. The mayor expects that the total cost of the 450th celebration to exceed $42 million.
· $250,000 for the Park Service to study whether Alexander Hamilton’s boyhood estate at St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands is suitable for designation as a new National Park unit. Coincidentally the Trust for Public Land announced it would be buying the Estate the same week as the legislation passed the Energy Committee. In its announcement, the Trust said “will acquire it on behalf of the Virgin Islands and eventually, plans call for it to be protected by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site. … The Trust is excited to be working with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the National Park Service to preserve it.” In this case, taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for a study located on a tropical resort island in what appears to be a prearranged deal between the Park Service and the National Trust.
· Several tourism related measures, including a couple that have already become a favorite piggy bank to pay for congressional earmarks, such as the Save America’s Treasures program, the Preserve America program, and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation program. The Route 66 program is currently restoring aging gas stations, motels and restaurants. Unfortunately, tourism has declined with many Americans unable to afford the cost of gas and, as evidenced by this bill, Congress’ misplaced priorities threaten to drive up the cost of travel.
· $5 million for the National Tropical Botanical Garden to operate and maintain gardens in Hawaii and Florida. The Garden currently has $12.4 million in annual revenue, with operating expenses of $8.1 million and net assets of $59 million.