Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - February 02, 2001
News-Miner Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON--Critics of a land conservation and coastal projects funding bill promoted by Rep. Don Young say his colleague, Sen. Ted Stevens, has announced his opposition to the bill.

The senator himself, however, says that he hasn't made any specific commitments about Young's proposed Conservation and Reinvestment Act.

The bill, which Young says he will reintroduce soon, would dedicate $45 billion of federal offshore oil revenues over 15 years to projects, mostly in coastal states like Alaska, and to land purchases around the nation.

CQ Monitor, a daily report on Congress, quoted Stevens last week as saying "I just don't see any reason to permanently set aside part of the cash flow when we know we've got a problem if this recession continues. I just don't know how soon we could get to another CARA vote."

The American Land Rights Association put the quote on its Web site, with the headline "Stevens will oppose CARA again."

In an interview Thursday, Stevens said he has given no specific commitments regarding CARA.

However, the legislation will have an uphill battle this year because of a similar program approved in the spending bills for this fiscal year, Stevens said.

"I said that I didn't think there was time for us to consider another CARA when we just put this one in," Stevens said, referring to the six-year, $12 billion program outlined in the fiscal 2001 budgets for the Interior and Commerce departments.

CARA supporters dubbed that program "CARA-light." The program carries too little money and doesn't dedicate it securely enough, they say.

But Stevens doesn't like dedicated funding. An ever-larger portion of federal revenue is restricted to specific areas, he said.

"This constant penchant to set aside and earmark moneys really means one entitlement after another has been created," he said.

Only 30 percent of the federal budget is non-entitlement spending. That includes defense spending, he said.

Stevens had committed to Young and Sen. Frank Murkowski, Alaska's other senator, to vote for CARA if it came to the Senate floor last year. Young's bill passed the House 315-102 but wasn't scheduled for a Senate vote. Murkowski sponsored a Senate version, but it never made it to the floor either.

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

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