Budget rider reverses key decisions by Kempthorne, Hastings says

Congressional Democrats have inserted a rider into the fiscal 2009 omnibus appropriations bill which would reverse decisions then-US Interior Secretary Dirk A. Kempthorne made in 2008, the US House Natural Resources Committee's ranking minority member said.

Section 429 would give the US Department of Interior authority to regulate greenhouse gases and let DOI withdraw two Endangered Species Act rules, one listing the polar bear as threatened but not endangered and the other dealing with consultations with other agencies, Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said on Feb. 24.

The provision essentially would be effective within 60 days of the fiscal 2009 budget's enactment without any public notice or comment period, he added. "This is a backdoor maneuver to create vast new climate change powers without any public comment or involvement by the American people," he charged.

The provision would create legal uncertainty which would threaten the general economy, according to Hastings. "If the sponsors of the rider think the special rule concerning the polar bear should be withdrawn, then why don't they petition the [current Interior] secretary to undertake an open process requiring public comment and independent scientific analysis as established under the law? What are they trying to hide?" he asked.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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