Committee on Natural Resources

Rob Bishop

Chairman Bishop Announces House Natural Resources Committee Senior Republican Staff for 114th Congress


Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) today announced senior Republican staff for the House Natural Resources Committee in the 114th Congress.

With the input of members and our state and local partners, the Committee spent the past two months developing a new subcommittee structure that will strengthen oversight capacity and reinforce legislative priorities.  Today, I am proud to announce the senior Republican staff I have tasked with advancing this new agenda over the next two years,” said Chairman Bishop. “Through work in various professional capacities on Capitol Hill and in the private sector, these individuals bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Committee.

Bill Cooper will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources and Senior Policy Advisor:  Cooper, who will join the Committee in March, has worked on oil and gas issues for over three decades.  He currently serves as president of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG), a trade association of LNG producers, shippers, terminal operators and developers, and energy trade associations.   Prior to CLNG, Cooper was a partner at Hunton & Williams LLP.  He also served as counsel to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and previously practiced law in Tennessee.

Chris Fluhr will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs: Fluhr has been working on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs issues for the Committee since 2003.  His prior experience with the Committee includes serving as Staff Director on the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee, Minority Full Committee Chief of Staff, and most recently Staff Director on the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs under Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA).  Prior to the Committee, Fluhr worked as Legislative Director in the personal office of U.S. Representative Don Young (R-AK). 

Rob Gordon will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Senior Policy Advisor on the Endangered Species Act: Gordon has worked on natural resources issues for over 20 years, focusing on endangered species, property rights, federal lands, and conservation issues.  He previously served as Professional Staff on the House Resources Committee.  Gordon has also worked on conservation issues in various roles outside of Capitol Hill, most recently as a Senior Advisor at The Heritage Foundation and as Board Member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Board of Conservation and Recreation. 

Lisa Pittman will serve as Chief Counsel for the House Natural Resources Committee: Pittman has served as the Committee’s Chief Republican Counsel since 2000.  Prior to that, she served as the Committee’s Deputy Chief Counsel, transitioning from the former Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee following the Full Committee’s restructuring in 1995.  On the Merchant Marine Committee, she served as Republican Counsel for ocean and Great Lakes issues, including coastal zone management, the Law of the Sea, nautical charting, invasive species, coastal pollution and marine sanctuaries.  Before coming to Capitol Hill, Pittman was an attorney advisor in various roles with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Erica Rhoad will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Federal Lands:  For the past two years, Rhoad served as Federal Liaison for the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. Her prior experience on Capitol Hill includes serving as Professional Staff on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the House Natural Resources Committee, and tenures in the personal offices of U.S. Representatives Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Bob Schaffer (R-CO).  Prior to that, Rhoad served as Director of Policy at the Society of American Foresters, and as government affairs advisor at Ball Janik, LLP, where she represented clients on natural resources issues.  

Kiel Weaver will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans: Weaver has served as the top Republican staff on the Water and Power Subcommittee for over a decade.  Prior to working on the Committee, Weaver’s Capitol Hill tenure includes stints as Legislative Director for former U.S. Representative Rick Hill (R-MT) and Legislative Assistant for former U.S. Senator Rod Grams (R-MN). 

Parish Braden will serve as Communications Director for the House Natural Resources Committee:  Braden joins the Committee from the personal office of U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, where he served as Communications Director since 2011. Previously he worked at the Republican National Committee as the Press Secretary for the Northeast Region and earlier served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Representative Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD).

Details on the specific jurisdiction of each of the five Subcommittees will be announced following the Committee’s formal organizational meeting on Wednesday, January 28, 2015. 
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Chairman Bishop Reacts to President’s State of the Union Address


House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) tonight issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address: 

President Obama tonight spoke about expanding our economy and attaining energy security, but time and again, he has actively blocked the responsible development of our domestic energy resources. He reiterated his commitment to investing in education, yet failed to acknowledge that his administration’s restrictive land use policies are denying local communities the tax revenue that is necessary to make these investments.

“While the President’s rhetoric suggests that he is inclined to change course, his administration’s punitive regulatory agenda speaks with greater authority. Look no further than the 600 new rules and regulatory notices that have been issued by federal agencies since the start of the New Year. In the coming weeks and months, the House Natural Resources Committee will conduct thorough and aggressive oversight to hold the Obama Administration to account for its actions.
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Chairman Bishop Announces Natural Resources Committee Republican Leadership, Subcommittee Assignments for 114th Congress


House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) today announced the subcommittee chairmen and rosters for the Committee’s Republican members during the 114th Congress.  Details for the Committee’s formal organizational meeting will be announced in the near future.

Promoting the responsible development of our domestic energy resources, active management of Federal lands, greater collaboration with our state, tribal and local partners, and examining federal regulatory overreach into these areas will be at forefront of the Natural Resources Committee agenda in the 114th Congress,” stated Chairman Bishop. “Our subcommittees will guide these priorities, and today I’m proud to announce the Republican members who will lead these efforts over the next two years.

Full Committee Vice Chairman:
Cynthia Lummis (WY)

Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources:
Doug Lamborn, Chairman (CO)
Louie Gohmert (TX)
Rob Wittman (VA)
John Fleming (LA)
Glenn Thompson (PA)
Cynthia Lummis (WY)
Dan Benishek (MI)
Jeff Duncan, Vice Chairman (SC)
Paul Gosar (AZ)
Raúl Labrador (ID) 
Bradley Byrne (AL)
Paul Cook (CA)
Garret Graves (LA)
Ryan Zinke (MT)
Alex Mooney (WV)
Cresent Hardy (NV)
Rob Bishop, ex officio (UT)

Subcommittee on Federal Lands:
Tom McClintock, Chairman (CA)
Don Young (AK)
Louie Gohmert (TX)
Glenn Thompson (PA)
Cynthia Lummis (WY)
Raúl Labrador (ID)
Doug LaMalfa, Vice Chairman (CA)
Bruce Westerman (AR)
Garret Graves (LA)
Dan Newhouse (WA)
Ryan Zinke (MT)
Jody Hice (GA)
Tom MacArthur (NJ)
Cresent Hardy (NV)
Rob Bishop, ex officio (UT)

Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs:
Don Young, Chairman (AK)
Dan Benishek (MI)
Paul Gosar (AZ)
Doug LaMalfa (CA)
Jeff Denham (CA)
Paul Cook (CA)
Amata Coleman Radewagen, Vice Chair (AS)
Rob Bishop, ex officio (UT)

Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations:
Louie Gohmert, Chairman (TX)
Doug Lamborn (CO)
Raúl Labrador, Vice Chairman (ID)
Bradley Byrne (AL)
Bruce Westerman (AR)
Jody Hice (GA)
Amata Coleman Radewagen (AS)
Alex Mooney (WV)
Rob Bishop, ex officio (UT)

Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans:
John Fleming, Chairman (LA)
Don Young (AK)
Rob Wittman (VA)
Tom McClintock (CA)
Cynthia Lummis (WY)
Jeff Duncan (SC)
Paul Gosar, Vice Chairman (AZ)
Doug LaMalfa (CA)
Bradley Byrne (AL)
Jeff Denham (CA)
Dan Newhouse (WA)
Tom MacArthur (NJ)
Rob Bishop, ex officio (UT)
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House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop Announces Republican Members for 114th Congress, New Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations


U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) today announced the roster of Republican members who will serve on the committee and five subcommittees in the 114th Congress, and the creation of a new subcommittee that will have jurisdiction over all committee oversight matters.

“Over the next two years, the House Natural Resources Committee will pursue an active legislative agenda and provide aggressive oversight of the Obama Administration,” said Chairman Bishop. “Today, I am proud to announce the Republican members of the committee for the 114th Congress.  These are knowledgeable and dedicated public servants who will play a vital role in strengthening America’s Federal lands and modernizing related natural resource management policies. I look forward to working with them and with the full committee during this legislative session.”

“Given the increased need for congressional oversight of the Executive Branch’s actions and regulations, I am also pleased to announce the formation of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. This restructuring will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of committee operations,” Chairman Bishop added.

Due to the new Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, the jurisdictions of existing subcommittees, which are listed below, have been reconfigured. Additionally, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be under exclusive jurisdiction of the Full Committee.  Member subcommittee assignments, including leadership appointments, will be announced at a later date. 

Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources
Subcommittee on Federal Lands
Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Subcommittee on Water, Power & Oceans

New Members:
Paul Cook (CA-08)
Bruce Westerman (AR-04)
Garret Graves (LA-06)
Dan Newhouse (WA-04)
Ryan Zinke (MT-at large)
Jody Hice (GA-10)
Amata Coleman Radewagen (AS-at large)
Tom MacArthur (NJ-03)
Alex Mooney (WV-02)
Cresent Hardy (NV-04) 

Returning Members:
Rob Bishop (UT-01)
Don Young (AK-at large)
Louie Gohmert (TX-01)
Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
Rob Wittman (VA-01)
John Fleming (LA-04)
Tom McClintock (CA-04)
Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05)
Cynthia Lummis (WY-at large)
Dan Benishek (MI-01)
Jeff Duncan (SC-03)
Paul Gosar (AZ-04)
Raul Labrador (ID-01)
Doug LaMalfa (CA-01)
Bradley Byrne (AL-01)

Previously Serving:
Jeff Denham (CA-10)

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Committee Report Uncovers Lack of Independence & Accountability of Peer Review Process for ESA Listing Decisions


House Natural Resources Committee majority staff released a report today that questions  the independence and accountability of  the peer review process in recent Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions.  The report entitled, “Under the Microscope: An examination of the questionable science and lack of independent peer review in Endangered Species Act listing decisions” studies the federal government’s peer review process for 13 different ESA listing decisions made by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) since July 2013.  The report found numerous examples of potential bias and conflicts of interests with the peer reviewers and a lack of transparency and consistency in the peer review process. 

The decision of whether or not to list a species under the Endangered Species Act has significant implications for the economy and livelihoods of impacted communities and private landowners.  As such, these important decisions must be based on sound science that has undergone an independent peer review.  This report raises troubling concerns about the lack of independence of the peer review process and whether many current, upcoming or recently finalized listing decisions, such as the White Bluffs Bladderpod in my Central Washington district, are scientifically sound,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).   “With hundreds of ESA listings driven by this Administration’s closed-door settlements with litigious groups, discovery of any potential bias about how ESA data and science are reviewed casts serious doubt on the credibility of these decisions, and provides more evidence that the ESA needs continued oversight and updating.”

Specific findings of the report include:

  • The FWS does not have clear or consistent policies and procedures in place across all Regions to ensure that peer reviewers with potential conflicts of interest are identified and screened;
  • The FWS generally seeks peer review of its proposed listing decisions at the same time they are made available for public comment, rather than earlier in the process when the peer reviewers may have more meaningful input;
  • The FWS regularly recruits the same scientists on whose work a listing decision is based to serve as peer reviewers, including those who have known policy positions or affiliations with advocacy groups that support the listing decision, rather than truly independent scientists;
  • The FWS uses scientists as peer reviewers who have received grants or other financial assistance from the Department of the Interior and its bureaus and other agencies; and
  • The FWS routinely withholds from the public the identities of peer reviewers, qualifications of peer reviewers, and details about their comments.
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    Hastings Praises Senate Passage of Natural Resources Provisions in the NDAA


    House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today praised the Senate for its bipartisan approval of the Carl Levin & Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, which included a bipartisan agreement (Title 30) on provisions under the jurisdiction of the House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.  The bill will now go to President Obama to be signed into law.

    I commend my colleagues in the Senate for working with us in a bipartisan fashion to advance a number of important public land measures that will promote job creation and economic growth,” said Chairman Hastings.  “Included in this agreement are nearly three dozen House-passed suspension bills that had languished in the Senate.  Our ability to come together and send these bills to the President’s desk represents a win for our country and for the communities throughout the West that will benefit from these measures.”

    Key Highlights:

  • Boosts new oil and natural gas production on federal lands by reducing permit delays, providing regulatory certainty to American job creators, preventing the Obama Administration from increasing costs, and extending a successful pilot program that helps the BLM deal with a backlog of drilling permit applications.
  • Allows for opening up the third largest undeveloped copper resource in the world – supporting nearly 3,700 American jobs and producing enough copper to meet 25 percent of current U.S. demand.
  • Reduces grazing permit backlogs and adds needed certainty to America’s ranching community.
  • Updates fee structure to provide predictable, fair rates so families are not forced to tear down cabins they own in national forests.  Supported by the National Forest Homeowners.
  • Provides for over 110,000 acres of land to be conveyed out of federal ownership to be utilized for economic development (including mineral production, timber production, infrastructure projects) and community development (ie, local cemetery, shooting range).
  • Releases 26,000 acres of current wilderness study areas, which unlocks lands to be used for multiple beneficial purposes, including economic development and recreation.
  • Designates approximately 245,000 acres of wilderness in specific areas with strong local and Congressional support.  Nearly half of those acres are already managed as if it were wilderness due to its current status as a roadless or wilderness study area.
  • Supports America’s National Parks by providing new means of enhancing private funding (through donor recognition and the issuance of a commemorative coin to recognize the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016).
  • Ensures that no private property can be condemned in land designations.
  • To learn more about the natural resources provisions passed as part of NDAA, click here.

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    Senate Approves Measure to Keep Cabin Fees Fair and Affordable


    The U.S. Senate today passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, which included a provision authored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) to establish a fair, predictable fee-setting system for families who own cabins in our National Forests.  The bill will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

    "After years of hard work to fix this problem, I’m pleased that this bill is now on its way to being signed into law.   It puts a fair solution in place by creating a stable pricing structure and will help keep these family-owned cabins affordable for future generations to enjoy,” said Hastings.

    Cabin owners have recently been faced with arbitrary, skyrocketing fees as a result of a faulty appraisal system that has allowed annual cabin fees to increase exponentially.  Unable to afford the mounting fees, owners are faced with the choice of selling their cabins or abandoning and tearing them down.  Hastings’ Cabin Fee Act of 2014, which was the basis for this provision, establishes a simple, predictable fee-setting system under which cabin lots are assigned a place on a six tiered fee structure based on current appraisal.


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    Washington State Priorities Head to President’s Desk as Part of NDAA Agreement


    The Senate today approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, which included several long-term priorities important to Washington state, and particularly Central Washington.  These provisions were included as part of bipartisan agreement between the House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The House approved the bill last week and it will now go to President Obama to be signed into law.

    This bipartisan agreement is a victory for Washington state and the Central Washington district I’ve had the honor to represent.  It includes several long-term priorities for which the people of Central Washington have strongly advocated for years and their support and determination has helped get these bills over the finish line,” said Congressman Hastings.  “This achievement would not have been possible without the hard work of Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, Representative Reichert, and Representatives Larsen and DelBene.”

    Provisions impacting Washington state include:

  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park. This provision establishes the Manhattan Project National Historical Park that will include Hanford’s historic B Reactor as well as facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Los Alamos, New Mexico.  Under the bill, the Department of the Interior has one year to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and enter into an agreement with the Department of Energy governing the respective roles in administering the facilities, enhancing public access, management, interpretation and historic preservation.
  • Cabin Fee Fairness: This provision modifies the current cabin fee formula to make it more predictable and fair for families who own cabins in our National Forests. In recent years, cabin owners have been faced with arbitrary, skyrocketing fees as a result of a faulty appraisal system that has allowed annual cabin fees to increase exponentially. Unable to afford the mounting fees, owners are faced with the choice of selling their cabins or abandoning and tearing them down.Hastings’ Cabin Fee Act, which was the basis for this provision, creates a new formula for calculating fees to ensure the bill is revenue neutral without imposing fees that American families cannot afford.
  • Public Access to Rattlesnake Mountain: This provision, which mirrors legislation passed by the House of Representatives in previous years, will ensure public access to Rattlesnake Mountain in the Hanford Reach National Monument.
  • Hanford Land TransferThis provision executes a land transfer with a deadline of September 2015.  The 1,641 acres of Hanford land no longer needed for cleanup activities will be conveyed to the local Community Reuse Organization (CRO) for economic development and diversification. The land is already designated for industrial use under the Department of Energy’s Hanford Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The CRO requested the land transfer from the Department of Energy over three years ago.
  • Stehekin Road.  This provision will allow the National Park Service to relocate and rebuild the Upper Stehekin Valley Road in the North Cascades National Park. Over time, floods and the changing path of the Stehekin River has critically damaged significant sections of Stehekin Road.
  • Alpine Lakes. This provision will expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area in Washington state and designate both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic.
  • Illabot Creek. This provision designates a segment of Illabot Creek in Skagit County as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
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    Chairman Hastings: The Senate Must Act on House-Passed California Emergency Drought Relief Legislation


    House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5781, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014, by a bipartisan vote of 230 to 182. This bill, sponsored by Reps. David G. Valadao (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and Devin Nunes (CA-22), would provide short-term, emergency relief to the drought that’s hurting California’s communities and causing negative economic impacts nationwide.

    “Today’s approval of the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 marks the second time this Congress that the House has taken bipartisan steps to provide relief to communities and families impacted by this devastating drought.  The effects of this drought – from soaring unemployment to higher food prices - are being felt not only in California but across the Nation.  I commend my colleagues from California on their ongoing work and dedication to this issue and urge the Senate to take immediate action on this legislation to address the dire situation.”


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    ICYMI: Fresno Bee: Facts Support Passage of Drought Relief Legislation


    EDITORIAL: Facts Support Passage of Drought Relief Legislation
    The Bee Editorial Board
    The Fresno Bee
    December 6, 2014

    One of the oldest rules in politics is, when the facts are on your side, you cite the facts; when the facts aren’t on your side, you pound the table.

    Over the last few days, opponents of The California Emergency Drought Relief Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, have been yelling about water grabs, protesting the timing of the bill’s introduction and doing all they can to divert attention from the facts — both pertaining to this legislation and to the cruel realities of our state’s prolonged drought.

    So, let’s start with the facts.

    This drought is the worst that California has experienced in at least 1,200 years. So says a study published by the American Geophysical Union and cited by a Washington Post blog Thursday. Not only have we received little rain, but the lack of precipitation has been intensified by record-breaking high temperatures. Moreover, the fertile agricultural fields of the San Joaquin Valley are suffering through an “exceptional drought,” the most severe classification.

    Yes, it has rained lately in California. Thank goodness it has. But much more rain is needed to restore our aquifers, fill our reservoirs and reverse the economic hardship inflicted on our state and, in particular, the Valley, by the drought.

    The bill (HR 5781) introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford and supported by GOP leadership provides the flexibility and resources to give farmers in the Valley and elsewhere a fighting chance to grow their crops and put people back to work in 2015. In a nutshell, the bill would allow the Bureau of Reclamation the freedom to hold more winter rain and snow and then distribute it to areas in need. Not only would this flexibility help farmers and rural communities, but it would benefit the environment as well.

    This legislation is the product of months of talks and negotiations earlier this year involving Republican and Democrats in both the House and the U.S. Senate and is the result of thoughtful compromise. The bill doesn’t amend the Endangered Species Act or existing biological opinions. It leaves decision-making about habitat, protected species and water quality to federal environmental agencies. But it would reduce the flow of water through the Sacramento-Joaquin River Delta to the Pacific Ocean and pump more water to the south — as long as that pumping doesn’t harm protected fish such as delta smelt, salmon and steelhead.

    Moreover, these changes would be temporary, as they would end in September of 2016 or upon the governor ending California’s drought declaration.

    Opponents are trying to paint this bill as detrimental to the environment and the result of secret negotiations. Again, let’s examine the facts. In a phone interview with The Editorial Board on Friday, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, pointed out that this proposal is similar to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill that was passed under unanimous consent by the Senate in February.

    Passage of Feinstein’s Emergency Drought Relief Act then set the stage for negotiations — and compromise — with Valadao, who earlier had received partisan House approval of a bill that was extreme and over the top. Early on, Northern California Democrats, many of which are supported by environmentalists, were involved in the negotiations. But they drew firm lines in the sand and quit the talks.

    Valadao’s bill is reasonable and much needed. It deserves the support of Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer and the California delegation in the House of Representatives.

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    Dan Benishek


    Rob Bishop


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