Magazine article Sierra

The Fates of November

Magazine article Sierra

The Fates of November

Article excerpt

Red-faced and furious, the senior senator from Idaho blasted his colleagues. "We should have some coherent plan where we can develop energy, streamline the licensing procedure for nuclear power," fumed Steve Symms. "But no. Congress does not want to address that. It is not good enough, or it does not suit the Sierra Club . . . so we cannot do those things."

The occasion for this outburst was the Senate's vote to block consideration of S. 1220, a bill introduced by Bennett Johnston (D-La.) and Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.) that would have (in addition to "those things") opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. Standing by was a small group of happy victors, senators whom Johnston had dismissed just weeks before as too junior and too inexperienced to be taken seriously.

Junior they are. With the exception of Max Baucus of Montana, none of the group--Richard Bryan of Nevada, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, and Tim Wirth of Colorado--has served in the Senate for more than five years. And they share a political heritage: All were winners of close races in which environmental issues were paramount, and in which the Sierra Club's political program played a critical role.

The 1992 campaigns are under way, and the season promises to be storm-fraught: George Bush is seeking a second term, and several powerful senators face strong challengers. In a normal year, 30 or 40 races in the House and seven or eight in the Senate might be judged "too close to call"; analysts project three times as many neck-and-neck contests in 1992. …

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