Friday, December 08, 2006

Earl: Mt. Hood Wildnerness Bill Dead for 109th Congress

Passing along the breaking but not unexpected news from The O:

"It's toast," said Blumenauer, adding that Congress is having enough trouble reaching agreement on a continuing resolution to fund government.

Hopes for passage of the wilderness bill have been dwindling as lawmakers have been unable to find a compromise between a bill passed by the House of Representatives in July and another introduced in the Senate.

The House version, sponsored by Blumenauer and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., puts about 77,500 acres off limits to logging, mining, roads by designating it as wilderness. But the Senate version, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, called for more than 125,000 acres.

Another sticking point was a land swap that would be mandated by the bill. It would require the government to trade Forest Service land at Government Camp to the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski area for land owned by the ski area at Cooper Spur. The swap was criticized for not meeting appraisal standards designed to ensure a fair deal for taxpayers.

Perhaps a better bill will come more easily in the 110th, but probably not for a while--too much else to do right off. What a fitting epitaph for this utterly craptastic Congress: We Couldn't Even Pass the Stuff People Of Both Parties Agreed On.