1998 Scorecard Vote
To the east of Alaska's Prince William Sound lies the Copper River Delta, the largest wetland on the Pacific coast of North America and the most important shorebird habitat in the Western Hemisphere, harboring the world's largest populations of nesting trumpeter swans.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt created the Chugach National Forest in large part to protect the Delta and adjacent temperate rainforests from coal mining. In 1980, as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, Congress directed that the ""conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitat"" will be the primary management purpose of the Copper River Delta.
H.R. 4193, the Fiscal Year 1999 Interior appropriations bill, contains a rider to grant an easement through the Chugach National Forest so that the Chugach Alaska Corporation, an Alaska native corporation, can build a road to access their land holdings which contain timber, and the potential for coal, and oil and gas. The easement would be 10 times the width of a normal Forest Service access road and would be exempt from any environmental review or public comment. While acknowledging that the corporation has a legal right to build a road, environmentalists argued that the easement should not be granted in a way that overrides existing environmental laws.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) offered an amendment to strike the Copper River easement provision. On July 23, 1998, the House rejected the amendment, 176-249. YES is the pro-environment vote.