Much to the distress of environmentalists, Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Utah) is poised to become the next chair of the House Resources Committee, which deals with all bills related to wilderness, public lands, endangered species, and mineral resource extraction. The current chair, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), also widely disliked by enviros, will step down from the position at the end of the current congressional session because House rules prohibit members from chairing a committee for more than six years. Hansen said one of his first priorities would be to change the Endangered Species Act; he wants the economic impact of species listings to be considered. He asked, “If they find a slimy slug in the middle of New York City, are you going to close it down just to protect the slug?” Hansen also wants to alter the Wilderness Act to give Congress less time to decide whether to protect areas as wilderness.

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