Environmentalists Give Bayh, Carson High Marks on Wilderness Stewardship
Votes by U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and Rep. Julia Carson in favor of protecting wilderness are drawing the praise of national and state environmentalists, including Hoosier Chapter leaders.
Bayh and Carson each received an “A” on Wild Card, a report card released by the independent, nonprofit American Wilderness Coalition. Wild Card is touted as the first comprehensive and quantitative analysis of congressional action on key wilderness and public lands issues.
The report card graded senators and representatives on their support and degrees of leadership in key votes on public lands management before the 106th and 107th Congresses. Indiana’s senior U.S. Senator, Richard Lugar, received a “D,” and all six of Indiana’s Republican Representatives received “F”s.
“Hoosiers should thank Senator Bayh for the good sense and strong support he has shown on key wilderness and public lands votes in the past two years. Foremost among those were his votes to prevent destructive oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” said Thomas Dustin, environmental affairs advisor to the Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League of America.
Wild Card evaluated senators and representatives on three separate issues that pertained to the Arctic Refuge. “This just underscores the importance placed on protecting the Arctic Refuge by people here in Indiana and across the nation,” said Jeff Stant of the Alaska Coalition of Indiana.
Additionally, Bayh voted against the nomination of Interior Secretary Gale Norton, in favor of protecting new monuments created by President Clinton under the Antiquities Act, and against taxpayer subsidies to timber corporations.
He received credit for cosponsoring S.786, the Red Rocks Wilderness Act, which protects millions of acres of wild canyons and mesa country in Utah. “These efforts are making Evan Bayh a leader on wilderness protection in the Congress,” commented Dustin.
“All that remains for Senator Bayh to earn a perfect A+ from Wild Card would be cosponsorship of S.411 to protect the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain as wilderness. We hope he’ll do that. In the meantime, our hats are off to him for the strong stands he has taken on eight substantive votes on wilderness protection and public lands management included in Wild Card,” observed Tom Anderson, executive director of the Save the Dunes Council in northwest Indiana.
“Representative Julia Carson also stands out as a leader earning an A on these same wilderness and public lands issues in the House,” added Tim Maloney, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council in Indianapolis.
Representatives were graded on eight votes ranging from wilderness protection and off-road vehicle controls in Utah, to funding and protection for national monuments, to drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Sponsorship of four wilderness bills protecting areas in the northern Rockies, Arctic Refuge, Utah’s Red Rocks area, and in the southeast Alaskan rainforest was added.
“Senator Bayh and Representative Carson are from a state without much wilderness left, but that is all the more reason why they recognize the high values that Hoosiers place in protecting America’s remaining wild heritage,” concluded Maloney.
“Wild Card shows that Bayh and Carson voted to cut funds from the U.S. Forest Services budget that are paid to timber companies to build roads and cut timber in the last roadless areas in our national forests. This has direct relevance to protecting the remaining deep forests in Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest. Their votes are setting the right policy for protecting those forests,” commented Joshua Martin, midwest organizer for the American Lands Alliance, based in Bloomington.
“Indiana’s Republican Congressmen fared miserably on these votes however,” noted Jolinda Buchanan, conservation organizer for the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club. “In addition to voting to drill in the Arctic Refuge, America’s most pristine wildlife sanctuary, every one of them in the House—Mark Souder, Steve Buyer, Dan Burton, John Hostettler, Mike Pence, and Brian Kerns—voted wrong on every vote they cast in Wild Card,” Buchanan added.
“Protection of America’s precious remaining wilderness used to be a nonpartisan idea” said Dustin, an elder statesman among Hoosier environmentalists. “Richard Lugar helped us in the Senate during the Reagan years to control timbering in southeast Alaska and has worked to protect the Hoosier National Forest. But even he succumbed to the Bush administration line on most of these issues, including subsidized timber sales and three weeks ago, drilling in the Arctic Refuge, an issue on which he received thousands of letters and phone calls against drilling. Are there no more Republicans in our state who believe in the principles that Teddy Roosevelt espoused?” said Dustin.
“Wild Card is the first and only resource to clearly identify who is living up to their responsibility as stewards of America’s public lands and wilderness heritage, and who is not. Across America, people want to know who the real leaders are,” commented Melyssa Watson, chair of the American Wilderness Coalition Board.
To view Wild Card, visit www.freerangegraphics.com/clients/scorecard/final.pdf.
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