1983 Scorecard Vote
In 1983 Congress did set up a special commission to review the Reagan Administration's coal leasing policies. Many of the Administration's massive coal lease sales were environmentally destructive and could not be justified economically. Coal demand was way down and the previously leased federal coal reserves were already a glut on the market. Yet the Reagan Administration proposed to lease as much coal in 15 months as previous administrations has leased in 63 years. From an environmental standpoint, they chose some of the worst possible tracts. Some were next to National Parks. Others would have violated the Clean Air Act, or would have diverted and polluted scarce water resources. Some leases would have ruined habitat for thousands of wild animals, including bald eagles, bears and mountain lions. Some of the great treasures of the West could have been destroyed, from important dinosaur fossils to ancient Indian ruins.
The vote is on the Bumpers amendment to ban all further coal leasing on federal lands after October 1, 1983, until 90 days after the special commission created by Congress had completed its report. This would give Congress an opportunity to review the program before any more federal coal giveaways took place.
Bumpers amendment approved 63-33; September 20, 1983. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (Bumpers amendment to fiscal 1984 Interior Appropriations bill, H.R. 3363). The Reagan Administration opposed the amendment, but the moratorium passed Congress and took effect. The commission's report criticized many aspects of the existing leasing program and made 30 recommendations for administrative action and six suggestions for changes in the law. After the moratorium was lifted, new Interior Secretary Clark suspended all coal leasing until new environmental impact statements could be prepared.