Sunday, July 25, 2010

Could CDPA 2010 Hitch a Ride With Another Sensible Renewable Energy Bill?

I keep coming back to the prognosis for the passage of the California Desert Protection Act of 2010 (CDPA 2010, or S.2921) because even if I am pessimistic about its chances, I know Washington is an unpredictable arena where one has to keep an eye open for opportunities.  Part of me believes CDPA 2010 is unlikely to be considered by Congress this year.  As I've noted in previous posts, Senator Feinstein's proposed CDPA 2010 is still stuck in the Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources, and Congress has plenty of business to consider in a relatively short amount of time, meaning that the bill faces an uphill battle.

However, there may be a fleeting window for the Senator's office to establish the two national monuments and host of other off-road recreation and wilderness designations included in CDPA 2010 by including her language in legislation that is more likely to be considered before the full Congress before the end of the year.  It appears that Congress is much more likely to consider and vote on proposed bills that are more significant on a national scale, whereas CDPA 2010 is geographically limited to California (even though the resources it would protect are a national treasure).

Instead of a stand-alone bill (as CDPA 2010 currently exists) waiting its turn in the long line of proposed bills, the Senator's office could consider combining her legislation with H.R. 5735 -- the "Clean Energy, Community Investment, and Wildlife Conservation Act"-- which is bipartisan legislation aimed at creating a pilot land leasing program for renewable energy, and using some of the profit from the leasing to fund habitat mitigation efforts.  Senator Feinstein's legislation is in the same spirit of H.R. 5735, since it attempts to address the "solar rush" on public lands, and balance the need for renewable energy with the need to preserve our natural heritage and open space.

The proposed H.R. 5735 is likely to receive broad support on a national scale, since the legislation would divide royalties from renewable energy development on public land -- giving 25% of the collected funds to the State in which the energy development occurs, 25% to the appropriate County, 15% to fund BLM administrative functions, and 35% to wildlife conservation and habitat protection.  It could also steer some of the renewable energy projects away from pristine and biologically sensitive desert habitat.

7 comments:

  1. I would like to see all 178 pages of S.2921 pass.

    S.2921 Was examined by the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies and the American Lands Access Association. At the annual meetings and conventions, the only sticking point keeping the AFMS / CFMS and ALAA from endorsing the bill was the comma found on the top of page 10 Line 1 right after the parentheses. If that had been a period instead of any other punctuation mark, much more support would have been gained. All three organizations were fearful of the legalese that comma and the rest of the sentence brought. What does " if the recreational uses are consistent with this section and any other applicable law;" really mean?

    I need a bit of time to compare H.R.5735 to H.R.3534 and how they complement S.2921.

    Also, there are a lot of deceiving assertions being made by the land-rights opposition groups. We need to look for their Ulterior motives for opposing bills that touch on royalties, energy leases and environmental protection.

    The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act is also being attacked.

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  2. RE: H.R.5735
    H.R.5735
    Title: Virginia Tech Victims Campus Emergency Response Policy and Notification Act.
    Sponsor: Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] (introduced 4/9/2008)

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.05735:

    Sometime .gov let's me down

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  3. Regarding the Mineralogical Society interpretation of S.2921, it is left ambiguous and probably ultimately the definition of what sort of rockhounding is consistent with the preservation of the Monument would be left up to the local authorities of the new Monument However, since it is specifically mentioned in the bill as a legitimate recreation activity, I would think rockhounding to some degree would be permitted.

    As for H.R. 5735, definitely make sure you look for the version of the bill in the current session of Congress. It's so new that my search also came up with the Virginia Tech legislation from 2008, rather than the legislation from 2010 addressing renewable energy and wildlife conservation.

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  4. Thanks Shaun, the "we don't trust government" folks don't like ambiguous.
    That's just a sign of the times. They don't want the BLM to take their access to collecting sites away. I don't see any harm in older mature rockhounds using established roads within the Monuments. The AFMS has a Code of Ethics that says they will cause no willful damage and practice conservation. I think the Intent of S.2921 is beautiful, But you know I'm an optimistic person.

    I did find the text of the new H.R.5735. Below is the link for others.
    http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h5735ih.txt.pdf

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  5. It would be dangerous to put this bill in a rider because it releases 300 some thousand acres of public land for energy development. Much of this land is old growth desert in places like the Chuckwalla Valley. In our view, it would be very counter-productive to create new national monuments at the expense of the biologically and culturally rich Chuckwalla Valley. Basin and Range Watch opposes new legislation for this reason. We would support it if they would use some common sense regarding sound conservation.

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  7. hi Kevin, apologies for the late response but I was just doing some more digging on s.2921 and remembered your comment. Where in the proposed legislation does it suggest releasing the Chuckwalla Valley to energy development? IS that Sec 1503? And do you know if it's possible these areas could be bumped up to Wilderness areas before the legislation is passed? Also, has Basin and Range Watch raised these concerns with Feinstein's office?

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