Environmental groups claimed a huge victory as the United States House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass a bill that provides the biggest increase of America's wilderness in 15 years.
Sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008, which President Obama is expected to sign, offers protections to over 2 million acres across nine states in the West and Pacific Northwest.
"This tremendous victory truly demonstrates what we can achieve, wrote Wilderness Society president Bill Meadows in an email to supporters of the bill. "It's also a powerful reminder of what we can accomplish in our campaign to stop new oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Ocean."
The Department of the Interior Mineral Management Service is currently asking for public comments regarding the leasing of 73 million acres of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas for oil and gas exploration, a last-minute move made in the waning days of the Bush administration. Comments will be accepted through March 30.
The region is home to several endangered and threatened species, including America's entire population of polar bears.
- Sign an Audubon public comment urging the Department of Interior's Mineral Management Service (MMS) to stop lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and allow additional scientific research and development of a new, comprehensive conservation and energy plan for the Arctic
- Time Out in the Arctic (March 25, 2009)
- Selling the Arctic's Future to the Oil Industry (March 9, 2009)
- Polar Bears Are in Serious Trouble (February 24, 2009)
- Farewell to the Polar Bears (January 14, 2009)
- Bush Withholds Protections for Threatened Seal (December 26, 2008)
- Using Art to Tell the Sad Tale of Polar Bears (September 29, 2008)
- Polar Bears Swimming Miles from Coast Cause Concern (August 23, 2008)
- North Pole May Be Ice-Free in Five Years (August 12, 2008)
- Lawsuit Filed to Protect Wildlife from Oil Drilling (July 12, 2008)
- U.S. Lists Polar Bear as Endangered, But With Limits (May 16, 2008)