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NPS in Alaska, 1973-1980





The National Park Service and the
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980: Administrative History

Chapter Four:
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act: A Legislative History
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H. Legislative Progress, 1979-1980

Looking ahead to the ninety-sixth congress, Senator Gravel said that he did not foresee passage of "a possible workable d—2 bill in the immediate future; the future is three years." [149] Nevertheless, the Carter administration's actions had the effect intended—of marshalling support in Alaska for some sort of legislative solution to the question. The burden had shifted, and the opponents of H.R. 39 now had to work for an acceptable bill, one that would not so weaken the protection afforded by the national monuments as to be perceived by the public as an attack on the National Park System. [150]

At the same time; seventy-five seats in the House of Representatives had changed hands in the November 1978 election, resulting in a clearly more conservative body than the previous year. The opponents of H.R. 39, moreover, were in considerably better position to exploit this change than they had been before. The Alaska legislature, for example, had voted an appropriation of $2,500,000 for a campaign to ensure that its interests were met. [151] The pro-development lobbying group, Citizens for Management of Alaska Lands, had received additional help in its lobbying efforts when Exxon Corporation and the National Rifle Association assigned their regular lobbyists to the d-2 question. [152]

The events at the end of the ninety-fifth Congress had taken its toll on the participants. It was a far more somber Morris Udall who, along with ninety-one co-sponsors, reintroduced H.R. 39, stating that "it is regrettable that the House must once again take up the greatest of land conservation issues in our history." [153] This bill, which Representative Udall described as a "refinement" of the House-passed bill of the previous Congress, actually went beyond the earlier bill. The new version—the proposed Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1979 reaffirmed the actions taken by the Carter administration, and deleted many of the political compromises that made House passage of the previous bill possible. The bill proposed the addition of more than 114,000,000 acres to the four conservation systems (including some 44,000,000 acres to the National Park System), and over 85,000,000 acres of wilderness, an increase of 20,000,000 over the previous bill. Gone were the transportation and mineral titles and the grandfather clause for hunting guides. [154]

The Department of the Interior, informed that the revised H.R. 39 would be used as a mark-up vehicle, decided not to attempt to revise its earlier proposals, but to put its imprint on the legislation through amendments to H.R. 39, much as it had done in 1977. [155] Following a review process similar to that followed in 1977 (although now involving only agencies, assistant secretaries, Alaska Policy Group, and Secretary) the department forwarded its recommendations on February 26, the day the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee was scheduled to begin mark-up. [156]

Following three days of hearings the 1979 version of H.R. 39 was revised and offered as a substitute by Representative Lamar Gudger. During the four days of mark-up meetings that followed, however, the effect of the 1978 congressional election became evident. The reconstituted Interior and Insular Affairs committee spurned its chairman (Morris Udall), defeated the Gudger substitute, and voted, by a margin of twenty-two to twenty-one, to adopt a second substitute offered by Representative Jerry Huckaby of Louisiana (H.R. 2199, February 15, 1979). [157]

The Huckaby substitute, and a somewhat similar measure (H.R. 2219, Breaux and Murphy, February 15, 1979) adopted by the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries over Representative Gerry Studds's conservationists-favored substitute, incorporated much of what had been included in the staff draft of October 13, 1978. [158] Although there were differences, both can fairly be described as pro-development measures that weakened the protections already given the conservation areas. In terms of the Park System, the Merchant Marine substitute (known as Breaux-Dingell) proposed the addition of 32,390,000 acres, with 20,030,000 in parks and monuments, and 12,360,000 in preserves. Bering Land Bridge, the Noatak, and 2,450,000 acres in Wrangell-Saint Elias would have been designated as wildlife refuges. Representative Huckaby proposed setting aside some 44,000,000 acres for the National Park System, with 20,510,000 acres as parks and monuments, 21,590,000 acres in preserves, and 2,510,000 acres as national recreation areas, including one totaling 1,270,000 acres in the Noatak. Both included a preserve in the center of Gates of the Arctic and both included provision for a transportation corridor across the "boot" of that area. The Huckaby bill, in addition, included a "no more" clause, prohibiting "further studies on withdrawals of federal lands" unless authorized by a concurrent resolution of Congress. [159]

The Alaska Coalition indicated that they preferred no bill at all to the Huckaby substitute. Congressmen Udall and Seiberling wrote that if enacted, the Huckaby bill "would represent the largest raid on the National Parks and Wildlife Refuges in the history of this country," and indicated that they would vote against it if it reached the House floor. [160] Udall, along with Republican Representative John Anderson of Illinois, introduced a bipartisan bill, H.R. 3651, to be introduced as a substitute when the full House took up the question. [161]

When the House took up the question on May 15 both sides were confident of victory, and had marshalled their forces for what they hoped to be the final chapter on the issue. [162] For a time, as the House took up debate, it seemed that the larger issue of the division of Alaska's public lands would be lost to the question of gun control. The National Rifle Association, acting in concert with other opponents of the Udall-Anderson substitute, had launched a last-ditch, intensive effort to derail the proposal by calling it a gun-control measure that would have a negative effect on hunting everywhere in the United States. [163] It took an opponent of gun control and one of the Alaska Coalition's "doubtful" votes, Representative Pat Williams of Montana, to defuse the issue, which he did when he took the floor to accuse the NRA of misrepresentation in its contention that the Udall-Anderson bill could be construed as a gun-control measure. [164]

Actually supporters of Udall-Anderson had already won a crucial vote when the House Rules Committee decided that the full House would vote first on Udall-Anderson, which would be presented as an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the Huckaby bill. During the debate, supporters of the Breaux-Dingell and Huckaby bills merged those bills in an effort to present a stronger front. When the vote came, however, the House chose Udall-Anderson over the Breaux-Dingell Huckaby substitute by a margin that surprised supporters and opponents alike—268-157. Subsequently, the House passed the Udall-Anderson bill, as amended, by a vote of 360-65. [165]

Once again jubilant supporters of H.R. 39 hoped that the margin of victory on the floor of the house would create a momentum for a bill that would carry it through the Senate. The Senate Energy Committee, however, had already indicated that it would reconsider the bill it reported the previous October, and Senator Henry Jackson had introduced legislation to that effect. [166] Senator Gravel had indicated he would continue efforts to prevent consideration of a bill, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to delay proceedings by trying to convince the committee to hold additional hearings on the matter in Alaska. [167] Senator Stevens, who had given up his seat as ranking minority member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to become a voting member of the Senate Energy Committee, wrote that "settlement of the d-2 lands is the most important issue to face Alaska since it became a state," and argued that legislation along the lines of the staff draft prepared for the "ad hoc" conference would prevent protracted consideration of the issues. [168]

H. R. 39 was referred to the Senate Energy Committee on May 24. Although Senate Energy Committee had been given an added incentive to act in the form of Secretary Andrus' directive to Interior Department agencies to complete necessary documentation required for potential final, twenty-year withdrawals of land under section 204(c) of FLPMA, the committee seemed in no hurry, and did not begin work on the bill until October 9. It agreed to use Senator Jackson's S. 9 instead of H.R. 39 as the mark-up vehicle. [169]

The Senate Energy Committee held twelve mark-up sessions, during which Senator Stevens dominated proceedings, much as he had the year before. On October 30, with freshman Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts casting the lone dissenting vote, the committee reported a bill similar to that deemed unacceptable by supporters of the House passed version the previous year. [170]

Both the Interior Department and conservationists began work immediately on amendments designed to strengthen the bill when it reached the floor of the Senate. [171] At the urging of the Alaska Coalition, Senators Tsongas and William Roth of Delaware attempted to employ the strategy Morris Udall had used in the House of Representatives by introducing an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the Energy Committee bill. Although similar in most respects to the House-passed bill, the Tsongas-Roth substitute did include a number of items that were present in the Senate Energy version, but not in the House bill. The substitute provided, for example, for the continuation of commercial fishing at Cape Krusenstern National Monument, access across conservation units to private holdings within, or "effectively surrounded by those units," revocation of the 1978 national monument and FLPMA withdrawals, and facilitation of U.S. Borax operations in Misty Fjords National Monument. [172]

Senator Gravel once again had threatened to prevent consideration of the Energy Committee's proposal. Introduction of the Tsongas-Roth substitute convinced Majority Leader Robert Byrd to postpone debate until early in the next year. Resolution of the issue had been postponed once again, when only months earlier it had seemed the battle might be over.

The weary group that returned to Washington in January 1980 had hoped for a quick end to this seemingly endless legislative process. But their hopes were soon dashed when Senators Tsongas and Durkin, in return for a limit on the number of amendments to be allowed and debate on the bill, agreed to postpone consideration by the Senate until after the Republican presidential convention recess on July 21. [173]

Secretary Andrus had done his best to nudge the Senate into action by indicating that he would use his authority to permanently withdraw some 40,000,000 acres that had been temporarily protected under section 204(e) of FLPMA since 1978. On February 11, 1980, he acted to withdraw 40,120,000 acres of land under section 204(c) of FLPMA, saying that, "I'm glad the Senate is finally looking to scheduling the bill, but I am very concerned that the lateness of that date will lead to a stalemate in the closing days of the 96th Congress just as happened to its predecessor in 1978." [174] Included were 36,910,000 acres in wildlife refuges, and 3,210,000 acres in "natural resource areas"—Aniakchak (160,000), Lake Clark (1,150,000), Noatak (660,000), and Wrangell-Saint Elias (1,240,000). The latter were proposed NPS areas included within the composite boundaries withdrawn under section 204(e) of FLPMA, but were not in the national monuments. [175] They would be managed by the Bureau of Land Management, with the assistance of the National Park Service. [176]

The delay forged on February 7 gave both sides time to mount one last public relations campaign, and let the Senators prepare the amendments allowed under that agreement (Jackson, Gravel, and Stevens, three each, and Tsongas, five). [177] On July 21, 1980, finally, the full Senate took up consideration of the Alaska national interest lands with consideration of the first of five strengthening amendments, this one a wildlife refuge amendment sponsored by Senator Gary Hart of Colorado and four co-sponsors. [178] Despite efforts by Senator Gravel to delay action through parliamentary devices, the strength of support for a strong d-2 bill became obvious in votes of 64-30, 66-30, and 62-33 against stalling or weakening the Hart amendment. [179]

For the participants, however, the legislative progress of the Alaska lands bill must have been akin to riding a roller-coaster. Once again, their hopes were dashed just when victory seemed so certain. Senator Stevens, recognizing that he was almost certain to lose, prevented a vote on the Hart and other amendments by introducing the first of eighteen secondary amendments. In so doing, the Alaska senator, who was under increasing pressure to block consideration of the bill altogether, forced Majority Leader Byrd to take the bill off the floor. He also set in motion a series of meetings between key senators and their staffs, from which Amendment No. 1961, a substitute for the Senate Energy Committee bill, would emerge. [180]

On August 18, following a vote (63-25) to end Senator Gravel's filibuster, the Senate voted 72-16 to accept Amendment 1961 as a substitute. The next day, in what was almost an anti-climatic end, the Senate passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 by a vote of 78-14. [181]

Both Senators Stevens and Jackson warned that they would accept no changes to the Senate bill by the House of Representatives. [182] Despite their public "take it or leave it" position, efforts to reach a compromise between the House- and Senate-passed versions of H.R. 39 commenced almost immediately, and lasted through September. [183] But neither side seemed willing to compromise substantive issues, and by October 2, negotiations had broken down. Representative Udall, along with Tom Evans, Lud Ashley, John Seiberling, and Philip Burton introduced HR 8311, which Representative Udall described as a "blueprint for final compromise." Representative Udall had devised an ingenious, if somewhat complicated "two-bill strategy" for HR 8311 , that did not reject the Senate substitute, but rather, would amend the Senate bill once it was signed into law. [184]

Hopes of strengthening the Senate-passed H. R. 39 came to an end, however, with the 1980 elections which would bring into office an administration that had expressed an opposition to the bill and give the Republican party control of the Senate. On November 12 a crest-fallen Morris Udall, indicating "that neither I nor those who support me consider this legislation to be a great victory for the cause," asked the House of Representatives to give its approval to the Senate bill. The nine-year-old battle over Alaska's National Interest lands ended that day by a desultory voice vote. [185] On December 2, President Jimmy Carter, saying that "never before have we seized the opportunity to preserve so much of America's natural and cultural heritage," signed into law the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. [186]

Chapter Four continues with...
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980


Last Modified: Tues, Jan 9 2001 10:08 am PDT

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