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Public Statements

Designating Certain Land As Components Of The National Wilderness Preservation System

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Designating Certain Land As Components Of The National Wilderness Preservation System

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Mr. COBURN. Madam President, in thinking about where we are today, I asked myself what the average Oklahoman would ask of me about this bill, or the average person from Wyoming or California.

As I think about it, we have a bill that has 45 blatant earmarks in it. It is not a new day in Washington. Despite arguments to the contrary, we are going to significantly alter our access to millions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas by what we are doing. We are going to create a further imbalance. We have almost 107 million acres of wilderness area. We are going to add another 2.2 million acres to that today. We are going to trample on property rights as we haven't in decades, both directly and indirectly. I asked myself: Why are we doing it? I believe we are doing it because we are thinking in the very short term. I also believe we are doing it because we pride ourselves in the parochial benefits that we can return to our States at the expense of the best judgment in terms of decisionmaking for our future.

As has been noted on this floor, there are many of these bills that I don't approve that don't have an impact, that aren't earmarks, that aren't going to take property rights away, that aren't going to limit our access to available oil and natural gas, proven reserves, but nevertheless we are going to do those things today, and there are going to be 20 or 25 votes against it. That doesn't mean the people who are promoting this are any more genuine or sincere than I am, but I think what it does mean is we have a short-term, myopic-focused leadership in the Congress that does not weigh properly the benefits of pleasing the parochial interests at the expense of our future.

So I have fought very hard for many months to try to make sure a majority of these bills don't become law--not because I am opposed to wilderness or heritage areas but because I am for constitutional right of property ownership, because I know the more and more we take away from our ability to fill the gap as we transition to alternative energy, the more money we are going to fund to those people who would like to see us nonexistent.

It is a privilege to serve in this body. It is a privilege to serve with gentlemen such as the Senator from New Mexico, the chairman of this committee, and to benefit from his integrity and his demeanor and cooperation, but it is also a disappointment that, in my line of thinking, when you talk with the average American, we shouldn't be doing anything to take away property rights. We should be doing everything to assure ourselves increased access to energy in the future. We should, for sure, eliminate this blatant, corrupt process of earmarking, not because it is corrupt in terms of at this time or at that time; it is corrupt because it ignores the future and the costs and the lack of priority about how we should be spending what are going to be very limited resources in the future.

So I thank my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to attempt to put forward what I think are important principles.

I yield the floor.

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