copyright © 1997, Electric Nevada
|Yielding to condemnations from across the American West, the Interior Department Tuesday dropped a plan to assert new law enforcement powers on or near federally managed lands.|
Bruce Babbitt said the proposal, unveiled two days after
the election last November by the Bureau of Land
Management, had been wracked by "confusion and
misinformation" and must gain "a higher level
of acceptance" before proceeding further.
In a letter to Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, Babbitt promised "no further action will be taken" on the proposal, which the BLM and Babbitt have continued to contend would only have consolidated law enforcement rules.
When Babbitt visited Idaho last month, Batt had complained about the proposed changes which Idaho's congressional delegation had begun protesting last December.
Ranchers, sportsmen and Western politicians in the West have viewed as an attempt by government to expand its police powers, although BLM spokesmen have usually insisted the agency was only seeking to "streamline" its rules, for the benefit of the public.
"This was clearly an attempt by this agency to expand its current authority," Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyoming, said Tuesday, praising Babbitt's decision. "Law enforcement activities are the responsibility of state
This is the second time that the agency, under Babbitt's directorship of the Department of Interior, has sought "consolidation" of the law enforcement regulations in a form that triggered intense pressure from western members of Congress.
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