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February 13, 2006 No. 14
WASHINGTON HAS JOINED A LAWSUIT FILED BY OREGON, CALIFORNIA AND NEW Mexico that challenges federal plans to potentially open some roadless areas in national forests to mining, logging and other development. (Seattle Times/Feb. 10) The Bush administration announced plans last spring to give states a voice in the decision-making process, but leaving the final decision up to the federal government. Initially, Washington asked the administration to adopt Clinton-era protections for the 2 million acres of roadless areas in the state. However, Gov. Gregoire said last week the administration turned down the state's request, prompting her decision to have the state join the lawsuit. The Clinton plan, which covered more than 58 million acres, was ruled illegal by a federal judge in Wyoming.

THE IDAHO ANTI-WOLF COALITION HAS FILED AN INITIATIVE CALLING FOR THE removal of all wolves from the state "by any means possible." (Greenwire, Feb. 7) Wolves were nonexistent in Idaho until 1995, when the federal government introduced 15. Since then, the wolf population has increased to about 600. The Idaho legislature called for their removal in 2001, citing the predation of deer, elk and livestock. In January, the federal government turned over day-to-day management of the wolves to the state, except in the northern panhandle, where they remain under federal protection.

AN ANALYSIS BY NASA'S GODDARD INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES CONCLUDES that 2005 was the warmest since instruments reporting began in the late 1880s, barely nosing out 1998. (AP/Capital Press, Feb. 10) Over the past 30 years, average surface temperatures have increased a little more than 1 degree.

THE U.S. SENATE MAY NOT ACT ON THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT THIS YEAR because Democrats fear that a potential reconciliation conference with the House could result in a bill closer to ESA reform drafted by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif. (Greenwire, Feb. 6) The Pombo bill, which cleared the House last year, has been praised by property owners and criticized by environmentalists. The Pombo bill emphasizes voluntary recovery plans and compensation for property owners whose land is deemed necessary for habitat.

THE STATE SENATE LAST WEEK APPROVED A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW OUT-OF-state producers to distribute beer and wine directly to retailers. (AP/Seattle Times, Feb. 10) The bill now goes to the House. Currently, in-state producers can distribute wine and beer directly to stores, but out-of-state producers must use Washington distributors. A federal court recently ruled that law unconstitutional.

THREE DAYS AFTER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION UNVEILED A PROPOSED BUDGET calling for the Bonneville Power Administration to pay down its debt with revenues from selling surplus power, instead of holding down rates for Northwest consumers, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman agreed to postpone publishing the plan in the Federal Register - giving Northwest senators time to express their concerns. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Feb. 10) Bodman made clear, however, that he was only delaying publication, which starts the clock running on the proposed change. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council predicts the plan would increase average residential electric bills by $26 a year, reduce personal income in the region by $109 million, and lead to a loss of 1,120 jobs.
______________________________________________________________________________________________* 2006 Washington Farm Bureau. Washington Farm Bureau NewsWatch is a periodic update on news of interest to agriculture. Contact Dean Boyer, director of public relations, 1-800-331-3276 or, send e-mail to dboyer@wsfb.com to receive NewsWatch by fax or e-mail.


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