Snowmobile Ban Zips Past Bush Roadblock
Below article borrowed from the Denver Post:
Snowmobile ban zips past Bush roadblock
By Theo Stein
Denver Post Environment Writer
Jan. 25, 2001 - Western lawmakers and administration officials are trying to find out how final rules banning snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park were published in the Federal Register on Monday - two days after President Bush signed an executive order that should have prevented it.
Publication is the final administrative step that makes new rules official. Bush's order, issued immediately upon taking office, imposed a moratorium that sought to prevent any new rules from being printed unless specifically approved by the incoming administration.
Prominent lawmakers, like Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., have already begun to hunt heads.
"These guys are playing games with us, no question about that,"
said Thomas, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Thomas spokesman Dan Kunsman brushed aside a National Park Service suggestion that it was too late to pull back publication of the rules.
"That appears to be semantics to us," he said. "The president was pretty clear."
Not only did the publication flout the new president's first executive order, the Interior Department also ignored thousands of comments, Thomas said.
"Surely, if you get more than 5,000 comments, some of which went in late in the day, you have an obligation to take a look at those," he said.
Cheryl Matthews, a spokeswoman for Yellowstone, said the rules were developed after years of study and litigation and should have come as no surprise.
The rules won't take effect immediately, added John Wright, an Interior Department spokesman, who suggested the incident would blow over.
"It's going to take a few days for the Bush administration to sort things out, but the rules kick in over two years, and this should give the administration enough time to look at it and decide what they want to do," Wright said.
Supporters of the move hailed what might be a symbolic final victory of the outgoing administration, which managed to anger virtually every pro-use resource interest group across the West.
"The Clinton administration continues to appall us," said Adena Cook, public lands director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition. "They've kind of made a career of that over the last eight years, and they continued right up to the last minute.
"We think it's very inappropriate to ban snowmobiles from Yellowstone Park," she added.
"Obviously, they got in just under the wire," said Bob Ekey, Montana representative of the Wilderness Society.
"But it's the right thing for Yellowstone."
Other Park Service "jewels" such as Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Acadia are already banning cars in favor of mass transit. Moving from snowmobiles to snowcoach operation in Yellowstone simply follows the national trend, Ekey said.
"What people forget is what's lost in Yellowstone," Ekey said. "Right now, Old Faithful in wintertime has all the ambience of sitting next to a hornet's nest."
Copyright 2001 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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