Rep. Young's conservation bill goes to House floor

Posted: Thursday, May 04, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska Rep. Don Young's Conservation and Reinvestment Act is scheduled for consideration on the House floor next week.

The bill would redistribute money from offshore oil development for wildlife conservation programs, the purchase of federal and state parklands, historic preservation and aid to states with drilling in federal ocean areas.

The bill's big winners would be California, at $332 million a year in additional money, Louisiana at $313 million, Texas at $237 million, and Alaska at $167 million.

The measure cleared Young's House Resources Committee last November after a bitter fight from some of his fellow Republicans. Western conservatives argued that federal land purchases would further weaken the rights of private property owners.

The legislation now has 315 House co-sponsors but remains hotly controversial, with some in the House leadership adamantly opposed.

Young made at least two personal appeals to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to bring up the bill, and state wildlife agency officials and other supporters of the measure staged a rally on the Capitol steps more than a month ago to urge prompt consideration.

The bill also faces attacks from congressional budgeters, who object to taking out of the federal treasury roughly $3 billion in annual receipts from federal offshore drilling and dedicating it to programs largely beyond the reach of congressional appropriators.

The bill's prospects in the Senate also are in question. Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has scheduled a private Wednesday session with his panel to assess the bill's chances.

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