Burns' Rider Shot Down, Pombo's Survives
Late last night, as they were working to get out of Washington, members of Congress tossed aside outgoing Senator Conrad Burns' rider that was designed to keep snowmobiles in Yellowstone at least through 2010, regardless of what park officials decide on the issue. Burns' rider also had the audacity to preclude the courts from intervening on the matter.
At the same time, a rider by outgoing Representative Richard Pombo was allowed to remain attached to a continuing budget resolution. Of course, Pombo's rider is largely innocuous, as it simply calls for the snowmobile rules that have been in place to remain in place through the end of this winter. And since Yellowstone officials aren't scheduled to release their draft EIS on the snowmobile issue for public comment until March, well, things weren't going to change anyway.
Still, not everyone is happy with the way politicians try to legislate the outcome of matters by attaching riders to bills.
"This last-minute rider undermines the high standards of protection that Americans support in their first national park where winter conditions have been improving precisely because snowmobile use is declining and a more environmentally friendly form of public access -- snowcoaches -- is growing in popularity," says Bill Wade, chair of the executive council of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.
"While this rider affects the winter season that is about to begin, scientific findings, public involvement and, above all, the laws that have protected Yellowstone for generations will shape the final decision about winter use. We are committed to ensuring that law, science and public opinion are heeded so that Yellowstone is fully protected."