6:08pm

Tue April 12, 2011
Budget

Budget Bill Rescinds Salazar Wilderness Policy

The current budget resolution that avoided a government shutdown includes a provision that would put on hold a controversial order by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that puts millions of new acres of federal land in the West on the table for protection. 

At the end of last year, in Denver, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a secretarial order that rescinded a Bush Administration rule that had barred the Bureau of Land Management from recommending new lands for wilderness protection. 

Now, tucked into the 459 page federal budget is a provision that bans the Interior Department from using any funds to implement the secretarial order. 

Colorado conservation groups are crying foul over the Republican-backed rider.

"We’re very concerned about it being in this resolution and being some kind of political sacrifice that has nothing to do with the deficit and everything to do with destroying wilderness," said Nada Culver of the Wilderness Society's Colorado office.

But oil and gas industry officials have argued Salazar’s order is being rushed and will close off access to important energy reserves in western states like Colorado.