WASHINGTON - Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is blasting a Republican bill that would open up more than 50 million acres of public lands - such as north Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest - to logging and other development.
Babbitt was Interior secretary for eight years under President Bill Clinton. He says the bill would virtually repeal the 1964 Wilderness Act, which preserves vast swaths of undeveloped public lands.
Babbitt calls the bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, ``the most radical'' proposal on public lands in his lifetime. He argues that it trades protection of wildlife habitat, clean water and clean air for corporate profits, and he calls it ``a giveaway of our great outdoors.''
McCarthy says the bill would increase Americans' access to national forests and other public lands, create jobs and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)