4:13 PM EDT
John Garamendi, D-CA 10th

Mr. GARAMENDI. The amendment that's being offered is perfectly appropriate. It's the duty of the Department of the Interior to carry out the law. The law requires the Secretary to review, from time to time, the status of public land.

All too often, I hear my colleagues on the Republican side say that this is government land. No, no, no, this is not government land. This is our land. This is the land of the American people, owned in common for the common good. And the Secretary, carrying out that responsibility, reviews the attributes of the land. Is it good for oil? How about gas development or coal development? Or maybe it's useful as grazing land, or perhaps it should be wild and scenic land and preserved for the purpose

of remaining in its most natural state. So my Republican colleagues come up and say, No, you can't look at the land. You can't study the land. We just won't want to know anything about the land, except to allow for the destruction of the land.

This particular amendment doesn't come in a vacuum. This amendment leads to the House floor another bill that is likely to move out of the Resources Committee and soon be on the floor, which would take the previous work done over the last 30 years that would quantify the values of the land, scenic, natural, wilderness, and push all of that aside and say, Open all the land, all the land to what was euphemistically--I hope euphemistically--called mechanized conservation. Hmm, ``mechanized conservation.''

Sounds to me like bulldozer, drilling rigs, a stampede of cattle and the like over any and all land.

Understand that this particular line in this appropriation bill goes hand in hand with a piece of legislation that went through, that was heard in the Resources Committee just yesterday, that would take all of the land that has been designated as wild and scenic some 30 years ago--some of which is said, no, it's not perfect for a wild and scenic designation--and take all of that land and open it for development. We ought not do that.

Therefore, this amendment that's been brought forward by the ranking member is appropriate in that it allows the Department of the Interior to upgrade some 30-year-old studies, taking into account new scientific information, new information about the land, and making that information available to us in Congress so that we can make an informed decision about whether land should or should not be wild and scenic or whatever designation might be appropriate, including opening some land for development.

But I suppose it's best to know nothing.