The Latest Bounce

 

On June 21, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $18.9 billion Interior Department appropriations bill. The legislation bans drilling in national monuments (HCN, 4/23/01: Monuments caught in the crosshairs), and prevents the Bush administration from reversing the 3809 hard-rock mining reform rule (HCN, 2/12/01: New mining regs slip into rulebooks). The Senate is currently working on its own appropriations package and then the two bills will head to a conference committee to work out any differences.

The Coeur d'Alene Indians own the lower third of Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene, ruled a divided U.S. Supreme Court; the decision ended more than a century of wrangling between the tribe and the state (HCN, 6/4/01: Lake Coeur d'Alene at stake). Now, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, which considers the lake central to its cultural heritage, controls recreation and environmental protection on it and can sue two mining companies who polluted the region (HCN, 11/25/96: Pollution in paradise).

The Wind River Reservation Shoshone and Arapaho tribes are also trying to reclaim some regional control. Tribal residents of the 3,544 square-mile reservation in Wyoming say they have no voice in the state Legislature, because the reservation is currently divided into five House and four Senate districts. They want the state to broaden district boundaries on the reservation

Neal McCaleb, President Bush's nominee to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs, says under his watch the agency can fix a federally managed trust fund in four years (HCN, 8/3/98: Tribes reclaim stolen lands). For over a century, the government has mismanaged the trust accounts for thousands of Indians, and currently it is unclear how much money the government owes to individuals. McCaleb has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

An Oregon judge has sent a message to ecoterrorists that their crimes will be taken seriously. Jeffrey Michael Luers, 22, was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for setting fire to a Chevrolet dealership and attempting to ignite an oil company's gasoline tanker. Luers, a self-described anarchist and tree-sitter, said he committed arson because he is frustrated by the ecological destruction of the planet. The majority of arsonists in Oregon last year received 7 1/2-year sentences.