Committee on Natural Resources

Rob Bishop

Committees Demand Answers on EPA’s Animas Spill Ahead of Joint Oversight Hearing

2015/09/01

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Vice Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, requesting data and documents about the events leading up to the EPA’s Animas spill and the corresponding response effort.

The Committees are requesting oversight  into this toxic spill in order to further “understand how and why the August 2015 Gold King Mine accident occurred” ahead of the joint hearing on the EPA’s Animas Spill on September 17, 2015. Read the letter here.

The Committees also sent a letter to the Environmental Restoration, LLC, the private contractor involved in the accident, requesting information and emails pertaining to the Gold King Mine project and subsequent spill. Read the letter here.

Please click here for more information regarding the hearing.

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Bishop: Obama Inserts Harmful Climate Agenda at Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

2015/08/27

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today issued the following statement in response to the President’s remarks in New Orleans:

“The White House has held fast to its mantra that a tragedy is a terrible thing to waste.  Burning plenty of carbon-emitting fuel as Air Force One travels to New Orleans, the President has hijacked the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in order to prop up his propagandist climate creed.

“The President’s climate plan is a hurricane of regulations that disproportionately harms underprivileged communities and those who suffered the most from Hurricane Katrina. These folks don’t have the money to pay for the skyrocketing energy costs which, make no mistake, is the end game of Obama’s climate legacy.

“If successful, the President’s climate legacy will effectively shut down America’s offshore energy industry, which is absolutely vital to the survival of New Orleans and the Gulf.  It’s appalling that the President has the arrogance to come to New Orleans and demonize the industry that supports the livelihoods of so many Louisianans from the bully pulpit.”

The Committee will be holding an oversight hearing in New Orleans on The Impacts of Federal Policies on Energy Production and Economic Growth in the Gulf” on September 15. Click here for details.

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Bishop: Throwing Salt in the Wound In Latest Water Diversion Decision

2015/08/25

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement in response to the Bureau of Reclamation’s latest announcement to flush Trinity River water towards non-listed fish species. 

“As California and the West are drying up, the Obama Administration has announced another unjustified water grab that prioritizes fish over people. People out West are suffering from lack of water, but the Administration has not demonstrated that this massive diversion will even help the non-listed fish. The Bureau of Reclamation must provide the scientific justification behind this decision, especially when the water now being flushed down the river was dedicated to Central Valley farmers that need relief. Unfortunately, this decision is a part of larger salt in the wound policies that make a bad situation even worse.  H.R. 2898, the bipartisan legislation that the House passed in July, will help bring much-needed relief.”

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Bishop: President Obama’s Energy Agenda is Powering Dependency

2015/08/24

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s remarks at the Eighth Annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Once again, the President is deceptively touting his Administration’s agenda as necessary to expand affordable energy to more Americans. This could not be further from the truth. The Administration’s energy policies are leveling increased costs and decreased choices on all Americans and especially the most disadvantaged communities. The President claims to be a champion of energy progress but his record over the last eight years has actually undercut the energy progress that has been spearheaded by industry and states.

“Raising utility prices by as much as $1,000 per family which will reduce GDP by as much half a percentage point a year is not powering progress, but instead a recipe for America’s decline and continued energy dependency. Instead of spending another $1 billion of taxpayer money to prop up noncompetitive sources of energy, the President should cut barriers to energy development on federal land and offshore.”

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Bishop Responds to Tragic Deaths of Firefighters

2015/08/21

Today, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) responded to the loss of the three firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Twisp River fire in Washington State this week: Tom Zbyszewski, 20, Andrew Zajac, 26, and Richard Wheeler, 31. This follows the deaths of David Ruhl, 38, and Michael Hallenback, 21, who died fighting two different California wildfires earlier this summer.  


“I am grieved to hear about the loss of the three young men who lost their lives fighting the Twisp River fire in Washington, as well as the two men who died fighting California wildfires earlier this summer. These five firefighters are heroes who stopped at nothing to protect communities threatened by the catastrophic wildfires ripping across the entire West. I offer my deep condolences to the families of these brave men. I am committed to working with my colleagues and the Administration on solutions to ensure unnecessary tragedies like this are prevented in the future.” 

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Bishop: Methane Plan Flies in Face of Technological Reality

2015/08/18

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposal for limiting methane from the oil and natural gas industry.  Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement in response:

“The EPA’s plan to limit emissions flies in the face of technological reality. The truth is that while the oil and natural gas industry has greatly increased production on state and private lands, methane emissions have actually fallen. This proposal is another unprecedented attack aimed at federal control of our nation’s energy production, with the goal of stopping new production. Additionally, the rule targets Indian lands, which will further limit tribes’ ability to develop their own lands. The Obama Administration continues to prioritize the fantasies of the environmental Left over American energy security and economic growth.”

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Bishop To Visit Lake Powell Following EPA’s Animas River Disaster

2015/08/12

On Monday, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) will visit Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Colorado River that straddles the borders of Utah and Arizona, in the aftermath of the EPA-triggered toxic spill into the Animas River. This lake and the Glen Canyon Dam that supports it are expected to be impacted by the dangerously high levels of lead, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and mercury spreading from the Animas River down through the San Juan River. Bishop released the following statement:

“EPA’s grave blunder is posing a serious threat to both the environment and the economy in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. Lands and projects managed by the Department of the Interior and Forest Service - not to mention the tribal concerns – within my Committee’s jurisdiction will be seriously and negatively impacted. In the coming weeks and months, the Committee will be conducting extensive oversight over the causes and the short-term and long-term effects of this serious situation.”

Additional information on the Committee’s oversight efforts concerning the Animas River spill and related impacts on federal agencies will be forthcoming. Read More

Field Hearing Highlights Draconian Rejection of Science, Local Stakeholder Input with National Park Service’s General Management Plan for Biscayne Bay

2015/08/03

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Small Business Committee held a joint field hearing in Homestead, Florida, on the National Park Service’s (NPS) General Management Plan (GMP) for Biscayne National Park released in June 2015.  The GMP, which includes a Marine Reserve Zone (MRZ) that would be closed to all commercial and recreational fishing, conflicts with the position of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the recommendations of the park's own stakeholder working group. 

“Today we heard first-hand accounts from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, local fishermen and businesses on the National Park Service’s draconian plan to close a third of the Biscayne National Park’s reefs from fishing,”
stated House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-R). “The National Park Service set up local management advisory groups on Biscayne National Park - and then ignored the recommendations.  The State of Florida’s input on the plan was rebuffed. This is not the way to run a National Park System.”

“I commend my Florida colleagues Rep. Curbelo, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Diaz-Balart for helping to elevate public attention to this matter,” Bishop added. “Together, we will take action to address the abuses of the National Park Service and re-establish public input and access at Biscayne Bay.”

On Thursday, July 30th, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen introduced the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act (H.R. 3310), which would ensure that federal and state agencies collaborate in the development of any new fishing access restrictions in areas where state marine waters and national park or national marine sanctuary boundaries overlap. The Committee on Natural Resources will be acting on the legislation.

During the hearing, witnesses discussed the NPS’s disregard for state and public input, lack of transparency, and disregard for the scientific process in developing the GMP, as well as the economic and environmental implications of the final GMP.

Ms. Jessica McCawley, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries Management, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), stated:
“FWC cannot support this plan for many reasons. First, the Park’s refusal to explore alternatives to a no-fishing marine reserve zone early in the GMP planning process ultimately contributed to a failed attempt to find a workable compromise. Second, FWC views the implementation of a no-fishing zone within the marine reserve zone under the GMP as a breach of the partnership agreement established through the MOU. Third, the proposed fishery closure is being based on an inappropriate application of scientific analysis. Fourth, the closure would unnecessarily restrict public access and negatively impact the south Florida economy.”

"The data bases used to begin the development of the GMP more than a decade ago are no longer germane to current stock levels or the condition of sea grasses, corals and other benthic habitat.  Park managers find it far too convenient to blame fishing for all of the ills facing the park because it is the easiest to regulate,”
stated Mr. Ernie Piton, Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. “The development of the GMP is now 14 years old and again, working groups assembled to help in the formulation of the plan have not met for at least 12 years."

Mr. Carl Liederman, Owner of Miami's Captain Harry’s Fishing Supply, stated
: “While significant in terms of lost public access, closing this area will do nothing biologically to improve the overall fisheries conditions in the park. There is simple no good science to support it, as the FWC can attest here today. And that coupled with the adverse economic impact this closure will bring to many of the marine related small businesses in south Florida makes this closure a very bad idea.”

Click here to view additional information on the hearing. 

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Chairman Rob Bishop Opening Statement at the Full Committee Oversight Hearing

2015/07/29

Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) of the House Committee on Natural Resources made the following opening statement at today's oversight hearing entitled "Federal Agencies' Selective Enforcement of ESA Consultation."

Remarks as prepared - Every day, Americans are required to comply with an ever growing list of federal regulations which restrict their freedoms and hinder their efforts to create jobs and grow our economy.  From nearly every agency, the Obama Administration’s regulatory onslaught continues at a fever pitch, killing jobs and condemning our nation’s economy to the anemic growth we are currently experiencing.  

No agency has done more to add to the expanding federal regulatory burden than the EPA.  Imagine our surprise when it appeared that the EPA was shirking its duties under the Endangered Species Act at the same time it seeks to finalize  two of the most expensive and far-reaching regulations in the last 50 years.  Today, we hope to discover that the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service are not selectively enforcing a critical component of the ESA to speed up the very rules that threaten to slam the brakes on the American economy.   

While well-intentioned, the ESA has caused more than its fair share of headaches for Americans, moving far afield of the original intent of 40 years ago. .  Instead of a law focused on saving species in danger of extinction, it has become a political tool for radical environmentalists to exact retribution on those seeking to make use of our natural resources.  

Instead of an open, transparent, and science-based regulatory scheme that would make partners of states, we have been left with an opaque, litigation-driven system that resolves controversial policy questions through closed-door settlement agreements.  Recent proposals by this Administration serve only to highlight that the status quo is unacceptable and that improvements in transparency, science, and state-federal collaboration are long overdue.  

But while there is growing consensus that ESA improvements can and should be made, it is hypocritical for agencies like the EPA to expect everyday Americans to follow its regulations while they are able to evade them.  They even are trying to evade answering our questions.  Amidst EPA’s confusing statements about their expertise on ESA, they communicated to the Committee last week that they didn’t have a witness that could speak on this topic on the agency’s behalf.

In March 2014, then Chairman Vitter of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote  to Administrator McCarthy and Director Ashe asking, among other things, if EPA was required by law to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service with regard to EPA’s rule on new source performance standards.  In response to this and 16 other detailed questions, Director Ashe responded, and I quote: “To date, the EPA has not asked the [Fish and Wildlife Service] to engage in section 7 consultation on the proposed [new source performance standard] rule.”  As of today, more than sixteen months later, the EPA has still not responded to the letter. 

Then, during a hearing before this Committee in March of this year, I asked Director Ashe if EPA had consulted on its rule for existing power plants.  Director Ashe responded that EPA had not requested consultation on the rule.  Ultimately, in a letter following that hearing, Ashe stated that the determination of whether EPA’s action may affect endangered species, and therefore require ESA consultation, could only be completed by the EPA, given their expertise with Clean Air Act issues. 
While some trying to follow the law can wait years to complete a consultation, federal agencies are ignoring the basic question of whether sweeping EPA regulations “may affect” listed species or critical habitat.
 
Courts and agencies have repeatedly emphasized that this is an intentionally low threshold.  Courts have stated that “[a]ny possible effect, whether beneficial, benign, adverse or of an undetermined character” triggers the requirement, and one court even went as far as to say that the mere presence of a listed species was enough to require consultation.  

It should not be this difficult to get straight answers as to whether these two massive rules “may affect” listed species.  But, we will hold the federal agencies accountable until we do.  

I should note at this time that we received unsigned and unsolicited written remarks from EPA late last night on this issue as well as the belated first few documents supplied in response to the letter sent by Chairman Inhofe and myself. If EPA believes a few pages of unrequested testimony is a fair substitute for coming before this Committee and answering questions in front of the American people, then it sorely misses the point of this institution.  I will continue to press forward with our questions until EPA has answered them to my satisfaction.   

I thank the witnesses for attending this hearing and I look forward to learning more about this process. 

Additional hearing details here. Read More

Action Agency Missing in Action

2015/07/29

Today, the Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on “Federal Agencies’ Selective Enforcement of ESA Consultation.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refused to testify, despite the fact that, as the action agency implementing the Obama Administration’s new and existing coal-fired power plant rules, it is responsible for determining whether its proposed rules “may affect” a listed species or its critical habitat, pursuant to Section 7 (Interagency Consultation) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

As Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe recently stated in a letter to Chairman Bishop: “EPA, as the expert agency on the Clean Air Act, is best positioned to understand if their rules will affect listed species or designated critical habitat.” 

The Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sent witnesses that testified to the EPA’s responsibility in initiating Section 7 consultation. No witness denied that the EPA’s power plant rule hit a “may affect” threshold for endangered manatees that rely on coal-fired power plants warm water discharge to survive cold snaps.

Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at Department of the Interior: 

“EPA’s responsibility was to evaluate…beneficial or detrimental effects that were reasonably certain to occur. That’s the same responsibility of any federal action agency has when considering this first step of the consultation process.”

"It is ultimately the responsibility of the action agency to determine whether to consult and whether to adopt the Services’ recommendations."

"Consultation begins with the determination, made by the action agency, as to whether a proposed federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat."

"In determining whether a proposed action may affect listed species or designated critical habitat, an action agency must consider both direct and indirect effects of the action."

"Action agencies are the appropriate entities for making such determinations at the threshold “may affect” stage."

"If a proposed action is likely to adversely affect a listed species or designated critical habitat, “formal consultation” between the action agency and the Service is required."

"We ultimately depend upon the action agencies to establish the effects of their programs, plans, or rules and determine whether their actions trigger the need for section 7 consultation."


Sam Rauch, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs at NOAA Fisheries: 

"Formal consultation is required if an action agency determines a proposed action "may adversely affect" listed species or designated critical habitat."

"Federal agencies must also consult with the Services on activities that may affect a listed species and/or its designated critical habitat."


Click here for more information on the hearing.
 
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Contact Information

1324 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2761
Fax 202-225-5929
naturalresources.house.gov


Membership

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Rob Bishop

UTAH's 1st DISTRICT

Bradley Byrne

ALABAMA's 1st DISTRICT

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

Jeff Duncan

SOUTH CAROLINA's 3rd DISTRICT

John Fleming

LOUISIANA's 4th DISTRICT

Louie Gohmert

TEXAS' 1st DISTRICT

Paul Gosar

ARIZONA's 4th DISTRICT

Garret Graves

LOUISIANA's 6th DISTRICT

Crescent Hardy

NEVADA's 4th DISTRICT

Jody Hice

GEORGIA's 10th DISTRICT

Raul Labrador

IDAHO's 1st DISTRICT

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Doug Lamborn

COLORADO's 5th DISTRICT

Cynthia Lummis

WYOMING

Tom MacArthur

NEW JERSEY's 3rd DISTRICT

Tom McClintock

CALIFORNIA's 4th DISTRICT

Alex Mooney

WEST VIRGINIA's 2nd DISTRICT

Dan Newhouse

WASHINGTON's 4th DISTRICT

Amata Radewagen

AMERICAN SAMOA

Glenn Thompson

PENNSYLVANIA's 5th DISTRICT

Bruce Westerman

ARKANSAS' 4th DISTRICT

Rob Wittman

VIRGINIA's 1st DISTRICT

Donald Young

ALASKA

Ryan Zinke

MONTANA

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