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Conservation Bill OKd by House Panel

July 26, 2001|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House Resources Committee overcame a split among Western Republicans on Wednesday and approved a $47-billion land conservation proposal. It uses money from federal offshore oil and gas leases to restore coastlines, protect wildlife and create urban parks.

The committee debated for four hours before voting 29-12 to send the Conservation and Reinvestment Act to the full House.

Committee Chairman James V. Hansen (R-Utah) said the bill passed only after he was satisfied it protects private landowners, who would have to approve federal land buys.

Hansen said he wanted to make certain the measure included a program to compensate rural communities for nontaxable federal conservation land.

Supporters envisioned huge amounts of federal dollars flowing their way and cited a need for more federal conservation programs. Critics, particularly Westerners, described the bill as a federal land grab and spending mistake.

Crafted by Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and George Miller (D-Martinez), the bill faces opposition from Republican House leaders, committee members said.

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