Today, the House passed the “Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act” (WIIN) by a vote of 360-61. Provisions from the House Committee on Natural Resources included in the bill will bring drought relief for California and the West, by expanding water storage and delivery, and bring forth long-term water resolutions to Indian reservations. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:
“We have communities that have been suffering for a long time. Our job is to help people. Passing this bipartisan legislation is a critical step toward addressing dire water needs for California, Utah, many other western states, and tribal and rural communities.”For more information on the WIIN Act including letters of support, click HERE. Read More
Today, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing to examine decades of data manipulation at the United States Geological Survey (USGS), generally recognized as a preeminent scientific organization of the federal government.
The Department of the Interior Inspector General and a Scientific Integrity Review Panel both found a chronic pattern of scientific misconduct dating back to 1996 at the Inorganic Section of the USGS Energy Resources Program Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colorado. These pervasive problems damaged the lab’s credibility and resulted in its permanent closure in 2016.
“More than the millions of dollars in lost projects, the USGS has sustained a black eye that may not quickly heal. As much as I’d like to dismiss this issue, I simply cannot. As the facts come out, it seems to just open up more questions,” Subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said.
Despite audits and internal investigations, the overall impact and the rationale behind the data manipulation are not known and USGS Deputy Director William Werkheiser could not provide any further insight.
“When you’ve got decades of falsified, manipulated data, we all recognize it’s inexcusable. It’s phenomenal that something like that can take place for so long and not be checked,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) stated.
One of the chemists who intentionally manipulated data was recognized for their 30 years of service this year. Performance reviews, information on any disciplinary action and other records requested in September by the Committee have not yet been shared, but Mr. Werkheiser committed to a two week timeline to finally provide these documents to the Committee.
Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) was left “at a loss for words” when he asked if “any data derived from the lab during this period affect[ed] any federal or state regulations? If you don’t know what projects were done, obviously there’s no way to determine if the research affected any state or federal regulations.”
“I cannot address that with any certainty. That is true,” Werkheiser responded.
In addition to intentional data manipulation, an investigation of the lab found “overall toxic work conditions” and reports of harassment provided by “junior female staff.” Mr. Werkheiser admitted to management failures within USGS.
“It sounds like there is a lot more work that needs to be done,” Gohmert said.
“I would certainly agree,” Werkheiser answered.
Click here to view full witness testimony.Read More
Today, the House passed H.R. 4680, the “National Park Service Centennial Act” (Chairman Rob Bishop, R-UT), bipartisan legislation to equip the National Park Service (NPS) with the tools to better manage and promote our national parks.
“[The Park Service has] some significant problems, namely a $12 billion backlog in their maintenance issues.” Chairman Bishop stated during floor debate. “It is fun to create a new national park; it is not sexy to talk about fixing a sewer system. So that requires us to be a little bit more creative than we have been in the past and to provide new tools so the Park Service can meet this challenge that they have.”
“I believe the three greatest challenges to federal lands management are to restore public access to the public lands, to restore sound management to the public lands, and to restore the federal government as a good neighbor to those communities directly affected by the public lands. This bill does all three,” Federal Lands Subcommittee Chairman, Tom McClintock (R-CA) said. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the last century and begin the next century of our National Park Service than to restore the vision of its founders.”
"The National Park Foundation (NPF) applauds the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 4680. This important legislation will provide greater funding for our national parks and enhance our organization's ability to further leverage philanthropic support for these incredible places in their second century. We thank House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva for their leadership to ensure passage of H.R. 4680," National Park Foundation President & CEO, Will Shafroth said.
The “National Park Service Centennial Act” will provide the Park Service with new tools and authorities it can use to maintain and improve the system. Provisions in the bill help reduce the Service’s deferred maintenance backlog by generating new revenue to fund needed capital improvements. Other provisions will help leverage private philanthropic donations, offer enhanced visitor services, and expand the Volunteers in Parks program.
H.R. 4680 is the byproduct of bipartisan efforts and diverse stakeholder input, crafted in consultation with NPS, NPF, and other interested parties. Click here to view a support letter from the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition.Read More
Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement on the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act, a comprehensive water resources agreement set for consideration this week on the House:
“This deal is a no-brainer. This is a big step forward for people who live in the West and are suffering from drought. We have finally agreed to the premise that we should store more water before it flows into the ocean.”
Provisions within the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Natural Resources provide drought relief in California and across the West, address long-standing water settlement agreements for the benefit of taxpayers and Native Americans, and expand conservation, recreation, and management of water and other natural resources.
WIIN Act summary materials:
For a summary of western water provisions, click HERE.
For a summary of all Natural Resources provisions, click HERE.Read More
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed requirements for risk management and financial assurance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) released the following statement:
“The latest EPA proposed regulation is the result of sue-and-settle litigation that perpetuates more of the same special interest handouts from this administration. It’s a burdensome, duplicative and completely unnecessary pile to the tune of billions of dollars on the backs of the mining industry. State financial assurance programs and numerous other federal regulations are already in place to ensure environmental stewardship, but the EPA ignored input from those models and stakeholders. This rule – drafted by EPA with very little input from states, the mining industry and the financial sector – inevitably creates massive uncertainty and blocks access to our vast natural resources.”
In August, Bishop and Upton sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy detailing their concerns about the increased costs, duplicative regulations and lack of stakeholder input during the development of the rule.
The Natural Resources Committee holds jurisdiction over laws that impact the hard rock mining industry and the Energy and Commerce Committee holds jurisdiction over CERCLA.Read More
Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on three bills, including H.R. 5129 (Rep. Doug LaMalfa), the “Guides and Outfitters Act” (GO Act). The GO Act streamlines the recreation permitting process and allows for increased public access and recreation opportunities on federal lands.
In the years following the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, a flood of complex rules, regulations, and court decisions increased the cost of permits for recreational guides and outfitters. Crafted in consultation with recreation groups throughout the country, the GO Act reduces the cost and complexity of applying for and renewing recreation and special use permits.
“While much of the West consists of National Parks, National Forests, and other federal lands, the permitting process and costs have become so cumbersome in recent years that it is harder than ever for Americans to enjoy these areas. I’m proud that the GO Act will help get more Americans outside at a lower cost and with less red tape, goals that I believe everyone can support,” Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA) said.
“This bill would go a long way to righting these wrongs and simplifying the permitting process so that all Americans—not just wealthy ones—can access and hold events on our federal lands,” Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) stated.
“This fee determination is confusing and is a significant problem for outfitters,” Executive Director of American Outdoors Association, David Brown said. “H.R. 5129 includes strategies to improve and streamline the permitting process without sacrificing legitimate concerns for environmental protection.”
Click here to view full witness testimony.Read More
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the completion of initial reviews of three Endangered Species Act (ESA) petitions, including one setting the clock to potentially re-list the lesser prairie-chicken as endangered. Re-listing will designate habitat on millions of acres of private land in parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico. The announcement follows the Service’s removal of the species from the threatened and endangered lists in July, in response to a 2015 court ruling. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:
“It’s no surprise the Obama administration is disregarding last year’s court ruling and pushing more listings at the behest of radical environmental groups. Jamming through decisions with questionable scientific support in the eleventh hour is a fitting end to the administration’s failed ESA agenda.
“I look forward to working with the next administration on ESA reforms to ensure science and state input guide federal policy and prevent special interest litigants from blocking economic growth while paralyzing species recovery efforts."Read More
OP-ED: The Audacity of Smothering Regulation
Chairman Rob Bishop
Early in his tenure, President Obama pledged to pursue an "all-the-above" energy strategy. He then dedicated his administration to a smothering regulatory attack on the absolute majority of energy resources that American’s use in their daily lives. He tasked federal agencies to specifically target responsible oil and gas development. He forced unilateral rules and moratoriums, canceled lease sales, ordered the destruction of hydroelectric dams and directed an end to domestic coal. He followed with executive guidance to endlessly delay and prevent critical energy infrastructure.
This oppressive agenda, and the audacity with which it was executed, was on the minds of voters and apparently rejected on Nov 8.
With the transfer of power underway, the Obama administration’s controversial agenda appears to be in overdrive and the midnight rule-making has already begun.
Last week, the administration released the finalized methane and waste prevention rule on federal and tribal lands. Similar to the large majority of his energy and environmental policies, this rule was pursued with no underlying statutory authority. It is duplicative of state and Environmental Protection Agency efforts to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas sites and ignores that methane emissions have steadily dropped due to industry innovation. The rule will not only place a costly burden on the oil and gas industry; it will crush innovation and dis-incentivize new industry techniques already in motion to further reduce emissions.
On Friday, the Obama administration announced their five-year plan for the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. This important decision determines which offshore areas under federal control will be available for oil and gas leasing, including Alaska’s Arctic.
The global energy supremacy we enjoy today all began with the leasing stage decades ago, putting a plan in motion that grew our nation from a position of energy dependence to energy power. It helped free the United States from the shackles of foreign oil and reduce energy prices for American families, businesses and manufacturers.
While other countries, even allies that share our borders, have ramped up their energy leasing, the United States under the Obama administration has done the opposite. They have already canceled multiple scheduled Arctic lease sales, withdrawn key areas like the Atlantic from future leasing and put in place restrictive new regulations that have further discouraged private investment in our Arctic areas.
As former U.S. generals and national security officials clamor for increased Arctic presence – including responsible energy development – this administration has pursued a path of Arctic withdrawal. The President has ignored the benefits Arctic development yields to local economies and the vast support from Alaska Natives. Alaska’s congressional delegation, almost three quarters of its population and a majority of local North Slope community leaders have continually emphasized the essential role that the oil and gas industry plays in their state’s economy. The administration’s side-stepping of local voices doesn’t stop there.
In the coming days and weeks, we will discover whether or not President Obama will refrain from even more unilateral policies that exacerbate the country’s economic decline or if he remains intent on solidifying his legacy with the far left at the expense of America’s competitiveness.
Another job-killing regulation the administration is expected to rush through during the lame duck is their sweeping revamp of the stream buffer rule. Almost immediately after taking office, the Obama administration began rewriting a recently completed coal regulation, the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule. The rule is emblematic of this administration’s unilateral overreach and utter disdain for state and public input. The administration initially downplayed the thousands of job losses that would result from the new regulation and, throughout the process, shamelessly sidelined input from the states most impacted by the rule.
For too long, the American economy has been defined by stagnation and job loss. Over the past decade, one bright spot has been the domestic energy transformation that’s taken place on private and state lands. Families and businesses benefited from lower energy prices as manufacturers began relocating to our shores. Rather than build upon these gains, and unleash the same potential on federal lands, this administration piled layer upon layer of burdensome regulations on permitting and production.
On Nov. 8, the people voted for change and chose policies that place their wellbeing first. Yet even as American energy demand continues to grow, the Obama administration is willing to ignore local voices, undermine national security and cripple the economic foundations of our nation.
It’s extremely doubtful an administration that has been defined by executive overreach would scale back now. But if the President continues to audaciously charge ahead in his last days—smothering the American people with ruthless regulation—he will be met with strong opposition in Congress and from the American public. We can only pray that change comes sooner than we expect.Click HERE to view the article in The Hill. Read More
Today, the Department of the Interior released their finalized Five-Year Plan for the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program from 2017-2022. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released the following statement:
“The Arctic has become nothing more than a prop for the President’s legacy. He has ignored pleas from Generals, national security experts and Native Alaskan communities for responsible energy development. Today’s plan will chart a path of energy dependency for decades to come. We should be building on our position as a global energy leader, but we are punting it to Russia as Obama appeases the environmentalists pulling his strings. The American people are sick and tired of being ignored by a President who has never stepped foot on the North Slope.”
When the draft OCS lease plan was released in January 2015, it contained the lowest number of sales since the program’s inception. With the withdrawal of Atlantic and Arctic leases, it has reached new, historic lows.
On April 15, 2015, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on the Obama administration’s restrictive offshore leasing plan. On April 23, 2015, Chairman Bishop, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and 161 Senate and House members sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to increase access to acreage in the OCS.
Today, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the final revised policy on mitigation impacts of development. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released the following statement:
“Up until the bitter end, this administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service is forcing damaging, last-minute edicts on their way out the door. I have significant concerns that this ‘mitigation’ policy will only create more undue barriers to economic activity and infrastructure needs. It sets irresponsible mitigation standards. This rule won’t help the environment or the American people, but it will do wonders for the special-left interest and litigious groups that have Obama’s ear.”
On February 24, 2016, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing on the Presidential Memoranda on mitigation. Members raised concerns about the memo as it creates sweeping new statutory authority and requirements to agencies evaluating projects on federal lands and waters.Read More
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