Items by Jon Margolis

New monuments: Planning by numbers
The Interior Department's decision to go ahead and manage the new monuments established by Clinton raises cautious optimism among the environmental fraternity - the caution due to Norton's emphasis on local involvement: miners, grazers and motorheads, for
Campaign finance reform may boost grass roots
The campaign finance reform bill sponsored by John McCain and Russell Feingold won't solve everything, but it may give grassroots environmental groups a bit of an edge in future political battles.
Yucca Mountain debate goes nuclear
The battle over storing nuclear waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain is heating up in Congress as well as in Nevada and the West.
The Arctic: A slave to luck
In ordinary times, Interior Secretary Gale Norton's lack of honesty about the impact of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would make headlines.
Jeffords proves the West is part of the USA
The power shift in the Senate caused by John Jeffords' exit from the GOP won't turn the world upside-down but does rock it, as Western conservatives suddenly lose chairmanship of committees.
An energy plan as solid as natural gas
President Bush's much-heralded energy plan is extremely vague, but its vagueness may be the document's strong point, the writer opines.
Bush administration blinks on roadless rule
Republican attacks on the national forest roadless rule, although supported by a federal judge, still may backfire in a country that shows ever-increasing environmental concern.
The environmental movement is a-muddle
Conservation organizations and activists are suddenly feeling lost and lonely in Washington, D.C., in the new, anti-environmental world of George W. Bush and friends.
The power of love, and its opposite
Activists should be worried because President George W. Bush is surrounded by people who scorn and disdain environmentalism.
Weirdness abounds in Washington
His choices of Gale Norton for Interior Secretary and John Ashcroft for Attorney General show that George W. Bush has already abandoned bipartisanship.
A 'most improbable scenerio' has come to pass
HCN's political columnist considers the recent, weird and not-quite-finished election, and suggests that if George Bush turns out to be the winner, he will have to govern from the middle, which could prove good news for the environment.
CARA's not quite the girl she used to be
Despite its tremendous original support, CARA (the Conservation and Resource Act of 1999) has come through Congress much changed and reduced.
In presidential politics, the West has a bad hand
A longtime political observer explains how it is that a huge region like the West has a rather minimal influence on national presidential elections.
Remembering an establishment revolutionary
Remembering the late John Sawhill, president of the Nature Conservancy, whose unique blend of environmental fervor and ability to schmooze with the rich helped to make his group the nation's largest conservation organization.
Can 'property rightsniks' stop a popular bill?
The Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 2000, which would guarantee permanent funding for 15 years for buying land for conservation, has broad support but still faces an interesting dance through a complicated Congress.
The U.S. isn't dead yet
Despite all the anti-federal talk, especially in the West, the government is still in place, and still trying to do its job.
Protesters raised the right questions
After the World Trade Organization protests ended in Seattle, Wash., questions remain about global trade, environmental issues and the way the world is changing.
In this election, the West is lost
Western issues and environmental issues in general don't seem to be visible on the political screen in Washington, D.C., even as the presidential race heats up.
In Washington, the emperor is on Babbitt's side
In Washington, D.C., Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt battles Western Republicans over the use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to preserve Western land for the public.
Do you want more wilderness? Good luck
Despite growing public support for more wilderness, Congress is unlikely to add any acreage, for a variety of political and even philosophical reasons.
Never underestimate a working majority
The working majority in Congress enforces or ignores Rule 16 as it pleases - the rule that prevents policy-making amendments being added to appropriations bills.
The quiet Takings Project is trespassing on democracy
The Takings Project and its mastermind, law professor Richard Epstein, are trying to put a stop to any federal or state regulation of business and property, and despite their flawed reasoning, many conservative judges are under their influence.
New twist in an old law has everyone screaming
Solicitor John Leshy of the Interior Dept., an expert on the 1872 Mining Law, has the industry screaming and politicians in turmoil over his decision to enforce a long-neglected provision of the law, which allows only a few acres per mining claim.
Congress searches for a 'green conspiracy'
In a spirit of overreaction reminiscent of McCarthyism, Alaska Republican Don Young sets up a task force to investigate what he calls the "Warner Creek Timber Sale Eco-terrorism" - a protest on the Willamette Nat'l Forest in Oregon resulting in arrests.
Take the green elephant off the endangered list
Republican environmentalists are making a comeback in Congress.
Beware Alaskans bearing gifts
Conservative Alaska Rep. Don Young is sponsoring a bill to buy more land for the public domain, but environmentalists are not cheering.
The West of the '90s is the South of the '60s
The Republican Revolution may be stalled in the rest of the country, but the Rocky Mountain West remains a stronghold for GOP hard-liners.
Defensive GOP cleans up its budget act
After weeks of bluster and deal-making, Republicans quietly dropped 30 or so anti-environmental riders to the appropriations bill.
Congress avoids buying public land
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is tied up in politics and milked to balance the budget, rather than spent to purchase public lands as it was intended to do.
These legislative riders sit low in the saddle
Republicans have attached a barrage of anti-environmental riders to unrelated legislation coming before the Congress, and Democrats seem unsure how to respond.