Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner ö Thursday, January 25, 2001
By SAM BISHOP News-Miner Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON--Reps. Don Young and John Dingell on Monday asked President Bush to support a $45 billion commitment to land purchases and other projects that fizzled in the U.S. Senate last year.

A spokesman for Young, R-Alaska, said the congressman and other House members would soon be reintroducing the version of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act that passed the House in May 2000 but was denied a vote in the Senate.

Young and Dingell, D-Mich., told Bush that the act would fit well with his campaign statements.

The bill would have dedicated $3 billion annually for 15 years. About $1 billion would have gone toward purchases of land for conservation--half the money to the states and half to federal agencies. The rest of the money would have gone to a variety of programs such as wildlife management, conservation work on coasts, projects to deal with social impacts of offshore oil development and projects to improve urban parks and historical sites.

Young, then chairman of the House Resources Committee, developed the legislation in cooperation with Democrats and ushered it to a 315-102 victory on the House floor.

Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, pushed similar legislation, but influential senators prevented a vote. They objected to dedicating such a large sum of money to specific areas of the budget, saying such a practice would reduce Congress' ability to adjust spending as priorities change.

The money would have come from federal offshore oil leasing revenues.

Young and Dingell said in their letter to Bush that their proposed act "exemplifies the principles you articulated regarding investment in state-based conservation initiatives, including full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal account to be used for conservation land purchases.

Congress did approve a scaled-down appropriation last fall for several of the programs that would have benefited from CARA.

"These one-year provisions have only heightened the overall desire to enact a comprehensive bill," Young and Dingell told Bush.

Be informed! Don't allow yourself to be snowed by CARA.

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