2001 Scorecard Vote
National monuments protect a diverse array of unique and fragile cultural, historic, archaeological, biological and scenic areas. Although popular with the American public, national monuments--particularly the 22 new monuments designated by President Clinton--were the targets of early criticism by the Bush administration and its allies in the oil, gas and mining industries. In particular, administration officials indicated that they would consider opening up some monuments to oil and gas exploration and development. In a March 13 press conference, President Bush suggested that such development could take place in some units without harming the environment. In April the Associated Press reported that Interior Secretary Norton said in an interview that drilling in the new monuments was "under consideration."
Environmentalists opposed these developments, arguing that national monuments are treasures to be safeguarded for future generations. In addition, the increased tourism and recreation generated by national monuments depend on preserving these federal lands in perpetuity.
On July 11, 2001, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) offered an amendment to H.R. 2217, the Fiscal Year 2002 Interior Appropriations bill, that would prohibit Secretary Norton from issuing oil, gas coal, and geothermal leases on national monuments. When Senator Durbin offered his amendment, Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) introduced a motion to table (or kill) the amendment. On July 11, 2001, the Senate rejected the Burns motion by a 42-57 vote (Senate roll call vote 229). NO is the pro-environment vote. Senator Durbin's amendment was then accepted on a voice vote. The House passed a similar amendment sponsored by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) when it considered the Interior appropriations bill. (House vote 4.) The Interior appropriations conference report, which included the prohibition on drilling in national monuments, passed both the House and Senate in October and was signed by the president in November.