May 15, 2013

UPDATE: Bill to overturn Park Service’s
ORV plan will go to House for a vote


The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources today favorably reported H.R. 819 to overturn the Park Service’s new off-road vehicle plan on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The vote was 24 to 17 in favor of sending the bill to the House floor for a vote, with Republicans favoring the bill and Democrats opposing it.

H.R. 819, the Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act, was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., on Feb. 26. The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation received testimony on H.R. 819 in a March hearing.

The legislation would overturn both the National Park Service’s final rule for off-road vehicles on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and a court-approved consent decree that settled a lawsuit filed against the Park Service by environmental groups. It would return management of seashore resources to the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy and Environmental Assessment, issued by the Park Service on June 13, 2007.

H.R. 819 was one of 18 bills that were marked up – or voted on – today by the full committee in a marathon meeting that began at 10 a.m. and didn’t end until about 3:20 p.m.  The committee’s very last action was the vote on Jones’ bill.

Several public lands bills engendered heated debate between Democrats and Republicans.

However, there was no debate on the H.R. 819.

Toward the end of the long meeting, committee member Rob Bishop, R-Utah, asked to enter comments in favor of the bill into the record, but did not talk about the bill nor did member Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who entered comments opposing the bill.

A similar bill last year was favorably voted out of committee and sent to the House floor, where it passed, largely along party lines.

There is a companion bill to overturn the ORV plan in the U.S. Senate that will be voted on tomorrow by the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

That vote is likely to be tougher for the supporters of S 486, since the Senate is controlled by Democrats.

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