The Wayward West

  In what critics call political "shenanigans," Utah Republican Rep. Jim Hansen stole the bill number from a wilderness proposal. H.R. 1500 has traditionally been the number for the Utah Wilderness Coalition's wilderness bill (HCN, 8/3/98). But environmentalists withdrew the bill this winter in order to update it, and Hansen introduced his own H.R. 1500. His bill would put a 10-year time limit on protecting areas as wilderness study areas.

Wyoming Republican Sen. Craig Thomas thinks the federal government is gobbling up the West. In April, he introduced a bill that would stop the government from acquiring more land in states that are more than 25 percent federally owned. If agencies want to acquire more land, the "No-Net-Loss of Private Lands Act" would require them to give up an equal amount of land elsewhere. "The federal land agencies continue to acquire vast amounts of land in the West and restrict these areas for multiple-use purposes," Thomas told the Cody Enterprise.

On April 27, tracking satellites and video cameras zoomed in on northern Utah, where a truck carrying 48 barrels of radioactive waste was bound for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project near Carlsbad, N.M. (HCN, 7/6/98). "We're not speed demons and we're not in a hurry," Jim Mitchem, one of the truck drivers, told the Salt Lake Tribune. The shipment was the first of almost 5,000 expected over the next two decades from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls.

By a vote of 7-6, Colorado's House Agriculture Committee killed a bill that would have weakened control of hog farms. Voters last November passed an amendment requiring environmental regulations; ever since, corporate hog farmers have worked to water down any constraints on air and water pollution.

* Greg Hanscom
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