Congressional Conservationists Corraling Resources

Not that anyone should be shocked, but definitely frustrated, but today’s Washington Post provides some insight to the plans of Congress with regard to converting more and more land over to federal protection control.  You know what’s scary?  If this had been the approach Congress took when Thomas Jefferson was president, we’d still be all stuck on the east coast, the western 1/3 of the country would be part of Mexico, and everything from Ohio to the Rockies would still be under Indian control (well, maybe not) and undeveloped.  Oh, and we’d still be using outhouses.

The thinking is, Congress may set aside as many as 2 million additional acres in this year.

Wilderness areas, which have the strictest level of federal protection, account for just over 107 million acres nationwide — 4.8 percent of the nation’s land mass, roughly half of it in Alaska. Federal law prohibits mechanized transport in wilderness areas, but they are open to such activities as hiking and fishing.

In recent weeks the House has passed six wilderness bills, including Wild Sky, that would protect more than 500,000 acres. The Senate Energy and Resources Committee has approved another four wilderness bills and the panel could pass more, an effort that Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said was aimed at addressing “some pent-up demand for bills that had been in the works for most of the last decade.”

Although several factors have spurred the flurry of legislative activity, much of it stems from the fact that former House Resources Committee chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) — who fiercely opposed designating any new wilderness — lost his seat in 2006. As many as a dozen bills are expected to pass this year, and another seven have been introduced recently.

This item will be the beginning of a list of reasons why it will be critical that we focus our political energy on electing conservatives to Congress.  As you’ve seen me say several times before, the power to control domestic issues is largely held in the legislative branch, not the administrative.  I was reminded of the importance of this concept while rereading the history of Judges Cave in New Haven, Connecticut.  I actually grew up at the foot of the hill (West Rock Ridge State Park) which contains the Cave (on a very nice overlook).  The story behind that is 2 of the judges involved in signing the death order of King Charles I (there were 59 of them altogether) after a contentious and bloody battle between Parliament and the King (the King had raised his own army to fight the army of Parliament).  When Charles II (son of Charles I) eventually took the throne, he pardoned everyone involved except for the 59 judges.  Any how, 2 of the judges hid out in the cave for a while, eventually joined up with a third and lived in a secluded location the rest of their days.

The point is, our country wanted a president, but not a king.  There are significant and critical responsibilities in the office of the President, but the power to legislate belongs to the Supreme Court (sorry, that just slipped out) the Congress.  The power to direct domestic affairs, to allocate funds, to establish law in this country is assigned to Congress.

In 1215, the Magna Carta was written.  This document declared that certain rights be divested by the king and assigned to the people (to be executed via Parliament).  It influences our form of government and our Constitution magnifies the concepts codified in it.  Let’s get our eye on the ball and get conservatives back into Congress.

About the Author

Mr. Smith is the Publisher of The Conservative Reader. He is Partner/Owner of Ambrosia Web Technology as well as a Systems Architect for Wells Fargo. Art hold a degree in Computer Science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and is a political blogger at the Des Moines Register. Art's views are purely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wells Fargo.


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