WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama signed sweeping land and water conservation rules into law on Monday, setting aside millions of acres as protected areas and delighting environmentalists.
The measure, a package of more than 160 bills, would designate about 2 million acres — parks, rivers, streams, desert, forest and trails — in nine states as new wilderness and render them off limits to oil and gas drilling and other development.
The House of Representatives approved the measure on a vote of 285-140 a week after it cleared the Senate, capping years of wrangling and procedural roadblocks.
Opponents, most of them Republicans, complained the legislation would deny access for oil and gas drilling and said House Democrats refused to consider changes.
The areas that would be designated as new wilderness are mostly in California, followed by Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia, New Mexico and Michigan.
Environmentalists welcomed the move.
But wait, environmentalists! You’re gonna like this, too! From The Washington Post:
Key House Democrats will unveil legislation Tuesday that aims to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, according to sources familiar with the bill who asked not to be identified.
The measure, co-sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the panel’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee, will serve as the main vehicle in the House for climate legislation.
It would establish a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide that would allow cleaner facilities to sell their pollution permits to dirtier operations. While the bill remains silent on some key issues, such as what portion of pollution allowances would be auctioned off and how the money raised through such an auction would be spent, sources said, it would establish both a national renewable energy standard as well as an energy-efficiency-resource standard that would reduce electricity demand by 15 percent by 2020.
The emissions reduction targets, which are slightly more ambitious than President Obama’s short-term climate goals, largely mirror those outlined by the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of business and environmental groups. By 2050, the bill would cut national greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to 2005 levels.
The bill also includes language modeled on the Carbon Capture and Storage Early Deployment Act that Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) introduced last year — promoting the commercial development of carbon sequestration technology by establishing a research fund.
Waxman has said he aims to vote the bill out of his committee by Memorial Day.