House Resources Committee chair, Richard Pombo, the ardent enemy of endangered species and public lands will be the one who becomes extinct January 1, 2007. Meanwhile he remains chair of the committee for the “lame duck” session of Congress which will soon resume.
A big question is the future of CIEDRA, which has drawn both support and opposition from Idaho and national conservationists as well as non-wilderness and anti-wilderness forces. The bill passed the House this year, but has been stuck in Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s Senate subcommittee, much to the dismay of Idaho Representative Mike Simpson, the bill’s sponsor.
Craig, long a foe of wilderness, has been expected to kill the bill or turn it into an anti-wilderness vehicle. His options now increase in the lame dusk session, but decrease afterwards when he will be replaced as subcommittee chair by a Democrat. Will he let it through as it passed the House, kill it, or try the anti-wilderness transformation route?
Republican representative Simpson, just reelected, is expected to reintroduce CIEDRA in the next Congress, but Pombo’s replacement will be Nick Rahill of West Virginia. Rahill is already on record opposing the “land giveaways” to Custer and Blaine County that are in the bill. So if this bill to establish Wilderness in the White Cloud and Boulder Mountains of Central Idaho is to pass a Democratic Congress, the side payments to anti-wilderness groups will probably have to be reduced.