Back Scratch Fever
The Senate is packing the Interior Department spending bill with measures to benefit oil, gas, timber, mining, and ranching interests. Riders would let oil companies keep hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties owed to the public, miners dump thousands of tons of waste on federal lands, timber companies log more of Alaska’s forests, and ranchers graze cattle in a national recreation area. Driving the pork train are Republican Sens. Larry Craig (Idaho), Slade Gorton (Wash.), and Ted Stevens (Alaska), who since 1991 have received a combined total of $850,000 in campaign contributions from these interests. The White House is threatening a veto over the anti-environmental riders.