Wednesday, December 3, 2008

CIEDRA, others are flawed

There were notable errors of fact and logic in your recent editorial on the CIEDRA and Owyhee bills. First, CIEDRA has never been part of the omnibus public lands bill that is currently on hold. The omnibus' sponsor, Senator Bingaman, excluded bills deemed so controversial that they would drag the whole omnibus down (even without Sen. Coburn's help). CIEDRA, having passed the House only under the pre-2004 Republic majority, having never acquired a Senate sponsor, and with opposition by 47 grassroots groups--including 15 in Idaho--could not meet that test. The Owyhee bill made it into the omnibus because it has been substantially rewritten by the Democrats to remove some of its most outrageous provisions.

It is beyond me why Crapo and Simpson deserve such praise. Anyone can draft a bill—it's successful passage that matters. The "polarizations, preconceptions, and misconceptions" you say these two politicians faced were actually exacerbated by their own approaches—in both cases, catering to a select group of "stakeholders" and rejecting input from anyone outside the club. Rep. Simpson can't get CIEDRA past the Democratic staff because the microscopic amendments he made last spring were a mockery. If the bills stall, you fear lands will be lost to "private desires [eroding]... public protections," when CIEDRA would give away thousands of acres of public land for private development.

And finally, you sternly warn against "larding" these wilderness bills ... with wilderness! If the Idaho delegation is to lead with the good sense and good governance you call for, it can begin by abandoning the deeply flawed and divisive practice of larding wilderness legislation with custom-designed special interest provisions. A return to real wilderness protection might garner the bi-partisan support CIEDRA has always lacked.

Janine Blaeloch


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