Senator Craig would not sandbag his fellow Republicans just before the elections, especially in view of the fact that a large majority of Idahoans indicate they support the efforts of Republican congressman Mike Simpson (ID, 2nd district) to create a large Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness (with side payments to anti-wilderness interests).
Idaho’s other US Senator, Republican Mike Crapo, has always supported consensus building efforts to defuse conservation controversies. His Owyhee Initiative, however, is his first success.
Senator Craig was polite about it, but he proved to be the same man he has always been. He dislikes Wilderness just as he always has. He doesn’t want cooperation on these issues, and he is going to either kill these bills after the election or turn them into flat-out anti-conservation vehicles. He has built his career on polarization on public land issues. He favors extractive interests, period. I don’t think he is cynical. He is a true believer. All he needed to change was his public tone slightly for the course of one hearing in his committee.
Read the article in the Idaho Statesman today, “Craig still has doubts about wilderness bills. Senator plans to work for compromises on Boulder-White Clouds, Owyhee bills.” In fact, the proposals represent years of negotiations and compromises. To say there needs to be compromise on bills that are entirely the product of compromise, is an oxymoron.
So these conservation bills are dead in fact if not in name. The question is will the media and the groups that entered into the compromise realize that before the elections?
Sept. 28 late. The Friday edition of the Idaho Mountain Express just went on-line and Greg Stahl has a story on the hearing.
Stahl thinks Craig didn’t “tip his hand,” although my impression was that his comments said a lot about his position and likely future action. Here is the article. “Idaho wilderness bills begin Senate voyage. Craig speaks cautious words about CIEDRA.“