At Lawmakers' Urging, Senate & House Appropriators Include Extension of Moratorium for An Additional Year
Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, U.S. Senators for Colorado, and Representatives John Salazar and Betsy Markey today announced that they have secured an extension of the moratorium on Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) expansion for an additional year. The moratorium on expansion will be included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 2010, which will be considered by the House and Senate before year's end.
"It wasn't easy, but we fought - and fought hard - to keep the moratorium on expansion in place," said Bennet. "With so much at stake and with the Army still unable to show us why it needs more land, the moratorium on expansion should be extended. We need to stand up for folks in southern Colorado, and I'm prepared to keep up the fight to preserve the land -- and the way of life it supports -- for future generations to appreciate and enjoy."
"In the three years since the Army first proposed expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, there has been ongoing concern about whether the Army needs more land beyond the 244,000 acres it already has," Senator Udall said. "Continuing this moratorium keeps faith with ranchers and landowners in Southern Colorado that expansion is not imminent, and I want to thank my colleagues on the conference committee for hearing our call to keep it in place."
"As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I again fought to secure the funding ban and will continue to do so for as long as I am privileged to serve in Congress. I want to thank my colleague in the House, Betsy Markey, and our Senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, for their effort in the fight to protect the private property rights of Southern Colorado farmers and ranchers," said Congressman John T. Salazar, third ranking member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee that approves the annual funding ban. "It will take a united front to stop the expansion of Pinon Canyon and I am blessed to be joined by such fine colleagues."
"This is a great day for private property rights in Southeast Colorado," said Markey. "Preserving the congressional funding ban for this expansion sends a strong message that our rights will not be trampled on, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the fight for Colorado's farmers, ranchers and landowners against the threat of expansion."
The announcement comes on the heels of several actions taken by Bennet, Udall, Salazar and Markey to secure an extension, including a letter the lawmakers wrote to House and Senate appropriators in which they cited continuing questions surrounding the Army's need for expansion and the need to protect southern Colorado's farming and ranching economy as reasons to preserve the moratorium.
In addition, Bennet wrote a letter last month to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Army Secretary John McHugh urging the officials to acknowledge the flawed nature of the Army's 2007 environmental impact analysis on the proposed expansion at Pinon Canyon and withdraw its plans to appeal the U.S. District Court's November decision on the matter.
The Army announced its decision to drop the appeal soon thereafter.