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Congress Finally Agrees on Something: Protecting Wilderness

June 30, 2008

Washington D.C. – Iowa stand to benefit from a recent "kumbaya moment" in Congress on an important issue. Members from both sides of the aisle have agreed to designate a dozen pieces of America as new wilderness areas. If lawmakers stay on track, designated wilderness would be much closer to Iowans.

Mike Matz, executive director of the Campaign for America’s Wilderness, says by year’s end, lawmakers could set aside as much unspoiled land in 2008 as they did during the last five years combined.

"They are really getting their act together on this one particular issue, and they're accomplishing great things for the American public. It’s pretty impressive to see."

Matz says this bipartisan effort is coming at a time when the White House is trying to open up more areas to energy exploration.

"Congress is trying to strike the right balance here, protecting 2 million acres, versus the 68 million acres the oil industry already has its hands on, yet is not developing."

In recent weeks, the House has passed six wilderness bills that would protect more than 500,000 acres, and by the end of the year, that amount could grow to 2 million acres.

Dick Layman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IA