House passes Interior bill
Washington, D.C. (July 14th, 2016) – Today, after working late into the night, the U.S. House passed H.R.5538: the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017. Western Caucus Members secured a host of provisions reining in Obama Administration regulatory overreach and ensuring more responsible stewardship of western lands and natural resources.
In response Western Caucus Chairman Cynthia Lummis (WY-At large), Vice Chairmen Scott Tipton (CO-03) and Paul Gosar (AZ-04), and Chairman Emeritus Stevan Pearce (NM-02) issued the following statements:
“The West and all of America have scored a major victory with the passage of this Interior appropriations bill, the first of its kind to pass in seven years,” said Chairman Lummis. “The management of western public lands has suffered under the Obama Administration’s neglect and anti-West agenda, but this legislation marks a renewed effort to reinstate and reinforce state and local stewardship of our land, our water, our energy, and other natural resources crucial to our way of life in the West. This will make a stronger West and a stronger America, as will the bill’s intervention into the Department of the Interior and EPA’s regulatory onslaught that threatens our nation’s prosperity, energy security, and global competitiveness. America and the West have good reason to be proud of the House’s work through the late hours of several nights to pass this bill and send it to the Senate.”
“This bill is full of provisions that are important to Colorado and our western neighbors that have been seriously burdened by the Obama Administration’s constant regulatory onslaught aimed at stifling responsible energy development,” said Vice Chairman Tipton. “I look forward to working with my colleagues as we continue to battle the Administration’s constant executive overreach and protect rural America.”
“The power of the purse is an effective way to send a message to all federal agencies; ‘Shape up or lose your funding,’” said Vice Chairman Gosar. “Given our skyrocketing federal debt, the House took a positive step this week in preventing federal dollars from going to lawless agencies, like the EPA, that care more about pursuing their own misguided political agenda than the well-being of the American citizens living in western states.”
“This Administration’s consistent overreach has does nothing but hurt New Mexico’s economy,” said Chairman Emeritus Pearce. “Passing this bill is clear evidence that the people’s Congress is pushing back against the Obama Administration’s excessive and unnecessary regulations that threaten New Mexican jobs. This bill balances the need to preserve our natural resources, such as providing funding to fight and prevent forest fires, while simultaneously allowing for the responsible development of American energy resources. I am pleased to see key provisions vital to New Mexico were included in this bill. For example, President Obama is trying to take control of ditches and farm ponds through the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. This bill stops him. The legislation also includes amendments that would block the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) venting and flaring rule and the BLM’s Hydraulic Fracturing rule, which would both be devastating to New Mexico energy production and jobs. These provisions will help lower energy prices, meaning New Mexicans will not have to pay more for their electricity and at the gas pump. They also will ensure that schools, local law enforcement, and hospitals have the funding they need to provide essential services for local communities. Overall, this bill will support local economies and start to make government agencies work for the American people not against them.”
· The Interior Appropriations bill sets the budget and policy for the Forest Service and Department of the Interior, who collectively own or manage roughly half of the western United States. The bill also sets the budget and policy for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which under nearly eight years of the Obama Administration has inflicted billions of dollars in economic damage on the American economy.
· Cuts spending by $64 million, setting it at $1 billion below the President’s budget request, while still fully funding the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
· Prevents the EPA from implementing greenhouse gas regulations on new and existing coal plants as well as the Waters of the United States rule which would seize authority over waters historically managed by the states.
· Prevents the Obama Administration from carrying out its campaign to keep energy in the ground by:
o time-limiting the indefinite federal coal lease moratorium,
o delaying the deeply flawed stream buffer rule that would heap unnecessary regulatory costs on coal mines,
o stopping efforts to increase taxes on federal coal, oil, and gas production,
o stopping offshore energy regulations that do little to nothing to improve safety in the course of harming our energy security.
· Prevents the BLM from implementing duplicative rules on hydraulic fracturing and methane emissions, which are already subject to state regulation.
· Protects private water rights from federal water grabs in federal permitting processes.
· Funds more effective wildland fire prevention.
· Reissues litigation-blocked rules delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming and the Western Great Lakes.
· Prohibits funding for the so-called “social cost of carbon” to be used by federal agencies to hold up crucial energy and infrastructure projects.
Delays finalization of the BLM’s sweeping Planning 2.0 rule to allow for more public input, including public hearings in 11 Western state, plus Oklahoma and Texas.
Simplifies the process for the BLM to transfer wild horses and burros to federal, state, and local agencies for use as work animals.
Prohibits the Department of the Interior from conducting mineral withdrawals in sage grouse focal areas, conducting further sage grouse determinations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and administering any resource management plan inconsistent with state sage grouse plans.
Supports removal of the lesser prairie chicken from the threatened list and prevents the species from being re-listed in light of the robust, state management already in place to conserve the bird.
Directs the use of existing regulatory flexibility to maximize water deliveries to drought-stricken farmers and communities in California.
Prohibits funding for the President to unilaterally designate National Monuments in counties across the country where there is documented local opposition to the planned designations.
Lays the groundwork for returning the gray wolf to state management nationwide.
Prohibits funding for the EPA’s In Situ Uranium rule to inflict unnecessary costs on American uranium production already struggling to offset our nation’s nearly 90 percent dependence on foreign uranium.