Friday, 26 November 2010

Resource Conservation On Party Lines

I saw an announcement on MSN about an award for a US palaeontologist for his involvement in the creation of that country's 2009 Palaeontological Resources Protection Act (Title VI of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 which seems a rather cack-handed way of passing such legislation). This led me to looking it up to see how it compared with the earlier archaeological one.

In summary, the law requires the Secretaries of the United States Department of Interior and Agriculture to manage and protect palaeontological resources on Federal land using scientific principles and expertise. The PRPA includes specific provisions addressing management of these resources by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). In particular it establishes stronger penalties than previously required for nonpermitted removal of scientifically significant fossils from federal lands. I note that
The provision was endorsed and strongly supported by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, an international association of professional and amateur vertebrate paleontologists. In contrast, the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences, an association of commercial fossil dealers, opposed the measure.
Quelle surprise (AAPS sounds awfully like the ACCG, doesn't it?). It is also notable that it seems that there was a certain amount of misinformation (see also here) being disseminated by lobbyists opposed to the tightening of controls in the interests of resource conservation in the US. "It was a long struggle, providing new insight into the amazing labyrinth that is the legislative process, and into the willingness of partisans in political battles to stretch the truth and stoke fears". Where have we come across that before?

I was interested to see how the voting went last year when it was passed, quite symptomatic I felt.
[It passed] by a vote of 285 to 140 (Democrats - yea: 285, nay: 4, not voting: 3; Republicans: yea: 38, nay: 140, 1 not voting)

Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009, Paleontological Resources Preservation (OPLA-PRP) P.L. 111-11, Title VI, Subtitle D, Sections 6301-6312, 123 Stat. 1172, 16 U.S.C. 470aaa

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