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Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007--Continued -- (House of Representatives - May 18, 2006)

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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I regret that I could not be present today because of a family medical emerg ency and I would like to submit this statement for the RECORD in support of the amendment offered by Representative RAHALL to protect wild, free-roaming horses and burros from commercial slaughter.

Since 1971 when Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the federal government has ensured the protection of wild mustangs and burros roaming on public lands. Unfortunately, in 2004, a controversial rider rolling back these protections was slipped into the massive omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2005. Congress must act to right this wrong. We owe it to the next generation to preserve a piece of American heritage--to protect our wild and free horses. As cosponsor of H.R. 297--the bill upon which this amendment is based, I urge my colleagues to support the Rahall amendment and reinstate the humane and appropriate protection of wild, free-roaming horses and burros.

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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I regret that I could not be present today because of a family medical emergency and I would like to submit this statement for the RECORD in support of the amendment offered by Representative CHABOT to protect the Tongass National Forest.

The Tongass National Forest spanning 17 million acres in southeastern Alaska is the United States' largest national forest and home to the world's largest temperate rain forest. Over the past 24 years, the American taxpayers have provided $850 million in subsidies to the timber industry to harvest areas within the Tongass. The American taxpayers deserve better. The bipartisan amendment offered by Representative CHABOT and Representative ANDREWS would simply prohibit the Forest Service from using any more tax dollars to build more roads for private timber in the Tongass. I urge my colleagues to support this environmentally smart and fiscally responsible amendment. Additionally, I am submitting for the RECORD an editorial in the Hartford Courant that also expresses support for the amendment.

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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I regret that I could not be present today because of a family medical emergency and I would like to submit this statement for the Record in support of the Capps amendment to H.R. 5386, the FY2007 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill.

The bill before the House today includes a provision lifting a long-standing Congressional ban on natural gas drilling and production in most of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). More import than what it does, however, is what it fails to do. For instance, rather than giving States a ``buffer zone'' which allows them to block the construction of natural gas platforms within 20 miles of their shores, the provision in this bill opens the OCS to drilling as close as three miles. Since this provision is being tacked onto an appropriations bill, it does not include the critic authorizing language that will provide the Department of the Interior with guidance on how and where to provide for drilling and production, or even grant them the authority to issue leases. In addition, it lifts only the Congressional prohibition on OCS natural gas drilling and leaves intact the Executive ban in effect until 2012, making this provision meaningless without more extensive authorizing legislation.

Many of our colleagues have deep concerns about the impact that opening our OCS to natural gas drilling and production will have on their States. This is therefore not an issue we should rush into with only cursory debate in an appropriations bill. Rather, it is one that should be carefully considered, with input reflecting all sides of this issue, through hearings held by the House Resources Committee. I urge my colleagues to support the Capps amendment.

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