Committee on Natural Resources

Rob Bishop

Bishop, Grijalva Request BLM to Address Concerns with the Bureau’s Implementation of the Helium Stewardship Act

2015/06/30

Today, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) sent a letter to U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze raising concerns with the BLM’s implementation of the Helium Stewardship Act (HSA), which passed Congress on a bipartisan basis and was signed into law on October 2, 2013.

“Congress carefully crafted the HSA in a bipartisan manner that would ensure competitive access for all stakeholders to the federal helium supply.  However, we are concerned that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s interpretation of the HSA has led to results counter to the intent of the Act,” the letter states.

The Federal Helium Reserve, which is managed by BLM, was created in 1960 in part to ensure the federal government had an adequate stockpile of helium during the Cold War.  The Reserve was scheduled to close in October 2013, an event that would have adversely affected a range of economic sectors dependent on helium, including both the defense and medical industries. The HSA prevented the closure of the Reserve and instituted market-based reforms to increase competition in federal helium sales.

“Rather than moving toward increased market competition of helium, BLM’s implementation of the HSA has unfortunately resulted in less,” the Committee leaders write.  Indeed, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the BLM’s implementation of the HSA found the number of companies purchasing helium for fiscal year 2015 decreased by 50 percent.

“Through competition, the HSA was designed to ensure greater access to federal helium by additional parties and a better return to taxpayers for the sale of that helium. The BLM’s current interpretations of the Act, however, could potentially lead to results contrary to those goals,” the letter states. “We hope that you will act to ensure that the federal helium program is managed in accordance with the full intent of the HSA.”

In acknowledgement of the BLM’s recent Federal Register notice, “Crude Helium Sale and Auction for Fiscal Year 2016 Delivery,” the leaders request a prompt reply from the BLM addressing the concerns highlighted by the letter. 

Click here to view the full letter. Read More

Bishop: Obama Administration’s Selective Application of the Law to Advance Its Agenda Must be Stopped

2015/06/29

Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standard.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander with this White House. With absolute disregard for the consequences, the Obama Administration continues to selectively apply the law in order to force through its controversial agenda. The EPA has similarly ignored obligations it has to consider the effects of other proposed Clean Air Act rules on endangered species.  Just as the Supreme Court ruled today that EPA cannot simply toss parts of the law that it dislikes, EPA also cannot throw away its consultation obligations, which are required under the Endangered Species Act, just because it’s inconvenient.  Today’s decision is an indictment of this Administration and its reckless abuse of power.” 

On June 15, 2015, Chairman Bishop requested information from the EPA on recent Clean Air Act rules for new and existing power plans concerning the agency’s apparent failure to initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on the impacts on endangered species, as required by section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The EPA, which was given until June 22, 2015 to respond to the inquiry, has yet to fully explain this omission.


Read More

Chairman Bishop Issues Statement on U.S. District Court Decision to Stay Federal Fracturing Rule

2015/06/24

Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued this statement following a decision by the U.S. District Court of Wyoming to grant a stay of the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rule. As a result of the decision, compliance with BLM's rule, which was originally intended to go into effect on June 24th, has been delayed until early August.

“This is a rule based on fear not facts that favors Washington bureaucracy over progress and science. The DOE and the EPA have both found fracturing safe yet the propagandist scare tactics go on. The ballooning lawsuits are an obvious sign of flawed policy. Back to the drawing board for BLM would be an understatement. The regulation is fundamentally wrong and should be ended entirely.  The U.S. District Court of Wyoming’s decision to grant this stay is a positive step in that direction.” Read More

Subcommittee Hearing Probes into GAO Report on Mismanagement of Renewable Energy Bonding at BLM

2015/06/24

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations today held a hearing to review a report published yesterday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is chronically mismanaging its bonding program for renewable energy projects. 

The report found that BLM systems for tracking bonds are unreliable and inconsistent; BLM does not adequately bond some rights-of-way; BLM does not consistently document how it makes bond amount decisions; and BLM’s physical handling and storage of bonds is also deficient, which became a focal point during the hearing. 

Click the image below to view key exchanges between Subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Amata Radewagen (American Samoa, At-large) and representatives from GAO and BLM on the report’s findings. 


According to the report, the national BLM office that oversees wind and solar projects does not have any policies or guidance regarding the proper handling and storage of bond instruments. BLM staff in multiple offices told GAO that bonds were stored in the project files instead of in a secured cabinet or safe.  At one field office, a BLM employee who was conducting a bond inventory discovered that some bonds were missing and later advised GAO that bonds were accidentally shredded. 

“This is part of a broader problem and emblematic of a bigger issue of stunning mismanagement that is plaguing the bureau,” Chairman Rob Bishop stated yesterday upon the report’s release. 

“This is a potentially serious issue,” stated Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Dingell (D-MI) during the hearing. 

In 2012, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of the Interior evaluated BLM’s renewable energy program and found many of the same issues. Following the 2012 OIG evaluation, the BLM pledged to take corrective action by April 2013. 

“Instead of heeding this advice, we are here 3 years later to hold BLM accountable for the many problems that both the OIG and now the GAO have documented,” Subcommittee Chairman Gohmert said.

Click here to learn more about the hearing and GAO’s report. Read More

Subcommittee Reviews Relationship Between Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis and Political Status

2015/06/24

Today, the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs heard from witnesses representing all of Puerto Rico’s political parties during a hearing to review the relationship between the current economic crisis gripping the island and the unresolved issue of political status. 
 
“Changes to Puerto Rico’s political status will ultimately be made by its citizens, but this Committee has an obligation to monitor developments, especially given the significant economic challenges facing the island. I want to thank all of today's witnesses for taking the time to offer their views, and Subcommittee Chairman Young for his continued work on these important matters,” stated Full Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT). 
 
“Today we continue the discussion on the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status, an important discussion given the current economic crisis the island finds itself in," Subcommittee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) stated during the hearing. “A discussion of political status for the island always sparks lively debate from within Puerto Rico and among my colleagues here in Congress and on the Committee.  I anticipate the same here today, and I welcome it; such spirited debate is healthy.”

The full witness list and testimony can be found here and below. 

Panel I

The Honorable Pedro R. Pierluisi
Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
President of New Progressive Party (PNP)
Washington, D.C.

The Honorable César A. Miranda Rodríguez
Attorney General of Puerto Rico
Testifying on behalf of Governor Alejandro García Padilla
San Juan, PR

The Honorable Rubén Berríos
Former Senator in the Puerto Rican Senate 
President of the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP)
San Juan, PR

Panel II

The Honorable Luis G. Fortuño
Former Governor of Puerto Rico, 2009-2011 (PNP) 
Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Carlos Romero Barceló
Former Governor of Puerto Rico, 1977-1985 (PNP)
San Juan, PR

The Honorable Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Former Governor of Puerto Rico, 2005-2009 (PPD)
San Juan, PR

The Honorable Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto
Mayor of San Juan, 2013-Present (PPD)
San Juan, PR

Ms. Miriam J. Ramirez MD
Former Puerto Rico State Senator, 2001-2004 (PNP)
Founder, Puerto Ricans in Civic Action
Orlando, FL Read More

Bishop Statement on U.S. Forest Service Decision to Officially Withdrawal Controversial Groundwater Directive

2015/06/19

Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement in response to the announcement today from the U.S. Forest Service on the agency’s decision to officially withdrawal its Proposed Directive on Groundwater Management. 
 
“From the outset the Forest Service failed to identify any practical or legal basis for this directive. The decision to officially withdraw concludes the bipartisan effort to stop this baseless and misguided proposal.  Finally, after more than a year, states and private water rights holders can have some peace of mind in knowing this policy is now officially off the table.” 
 
Background:
 
On April 14, 2015, at a Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee hearing, U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon announced the agency planned to withdraw the Directive and better engage with states on water issues. 
 
On March 26, 2015, at an Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee budget hearing, Chairman Bishop questioned Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on the Directive:  “May I suggest to you very carefully that because of the unanswered questions and the growing issues with this far reaching proposal that instead of a temporary hold, you simply withdraw it permanently?”
 
On March 12, 2015, Committee leaders sent a letter to Chief Tidwell, urging the agency to permanently withdraw the Directive.  The letter echoed similar concerns voiced by the Western Governors Association and others about how the proposal could usurp state management of groundwater.
 
On February 26, 2015, Chief Tidwell announced the Proposed Directive was temporarily put on hold but that further action would be taken.
 
On May 7, 2014, the Service published a Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management available for public comment.  The original comment period was for 90 days but after requests from the Committee and stakeholders, it was extended for two comment periods.  It closed on October 3, 2014. Read More

Witness Panel: Arctic Rule Will Freeze Development Necessary for Strong Alaskan Economy

2015/06/16

Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on the Obama Administration’s proposed Arctic Rule and its potential impacts on offshore energy development to native Alaskans, the State of Alaska, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and to our nation’s goal of energy security. 

The hearing also focused on a recent study by the National Petroleum Council (NPC), a federally chartered body with more than 200 members appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Energy, which concluded that most Arctic offshore resources can be safely developed using existing technology. Members of the Committee and witnesses criticized the rule’s negative impacts to industry innovation and the Administration’s failure to incorporate the NPC report’s findings into regulatory policy.

“There seems to be a disconnect within this Administration when it comes to the development of these important resources,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) opened. “On one hand we have a study conducted by the National Petroleum Council, requested by the Department of Energy, with extensive research and study into Arctic offshore energy development. On the other hand, we have an Arctic Rule published by the Department of the Interior that could significantly slow exploration and development and possibly curtail industry interest in future offshore lease sales that are currently scheduled.”

"The Arctic Regulations are yet another example of that inconsistency and I have to wonder whether their development was driven by an unspoken but very real determination to create unjustified barriers against future exploration efforts in the Arctic OCS,” stated Drue Pearce of Crowell & Moring and member of the NPC. “The regulations should be revised to incorporate the recommendations we included in the NPC’s Arctic Potential Report so that the U.S. Arctic will be competitive and Industry will be allowed to explore and develop our resources in an environmentally responsible but economically feasible manner. The Report describes a balanced approach that is missing in the regulations."

“Our communities cannot survive without continued resource development in our region,” Richard Glenn of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and NPC member stated. “We believe that the overly prescriptive nature of the Arctic Standards Rule is likely to hinder, rather than foster, development of oil and gas resources on the Arctic OCS.”

“These technologies are evolving with advances in primary barriers technology and well control methodologies. Current and future regulation must be flexible enough to incorporate these evolving advances,” Christine Resler of Schlumberger said. “The absence of flexibility in the current regulations does not allow for technological advances and best practices to be incorporated to improve operational performance in a timely manner. The greatest potential for reducing environmental risk lies in the pursuit of superior well control and well integrity.”

More information on the hearing can be found here. Read More

Bishop Statement on Report From GAO on Energy Development on Indian Lands

2015/06/15

Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today issued the following statement in response to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) titled, "Indian Energy Development: Poor Management by BIA Has Hindered Energy Development on Indian Lands."

"This report is the latest black mark against the Bureau of Indian Affairs. By hindering energy development on Indian lands, the federal government is blockading economic opportunities for Indian Country. The Committee will be working to ensure that the Department of the Interior is held to account for this gross mismanagement and neglect toward tribal communities." Read More

Bishop, Inhofe Request Information from EPA on Lack of ESA Consultation During Power Plant Rule Process

2015/06/15

Today, U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources, and U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy on the Obama Administration’s proposed Clean Air Act rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants and the EPA’s apparent failure to initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on the rules’ impacts on endangered and threatened species , as required by section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Manatees, which rely on the warm water discharge from coal-fired power plants during winter, are one endangered species that may be affected by the rules.  

“In promulgating these Clean Air Act rules, EPA must carefully and lawfully consider all the effects of its rulemaking, including the effects on endangered and threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  However, as the rulemaking process concludes, it appears that EPA has not satisfied its obligations under section 7 of the ESA,” the letter opens.

Even though EPA found effects on endangered species in its analysis of the rule on existing power plants, EPA determined that section 7 consultation was unnecessary, although this is required by the law.

Concerning the same rule the letter states, “The most recent government analysis projects that retirements of coal-fired power plants will double by 2020 as a result of the rule. EPA itself has conducted analysis that also anticipates the early retirement of coal-fired generating units.”

The letter explains that two power plants that are likely to retire at least some of their coal powered generating units due to EPA’s rule are Big Bend Power Plant and Crystal River Power Station in Florida and states, “Big Bend has been designated as a primary warm-water manatee refuge, is surrounded by a manatee sanctuary, and has a manatee protection plan appended to its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit.” Crystal River is also warm-water manatee refuge, and has a manatee protection plan appended to its NPDES permit.

“A regulation that causes designated manatee refuges like Big Bend or Crystal River to shut down or alter their operations would significantly and adversely affect the endangered manatee,” the letter states. As regards the rule for new power plants the letter states, “We are astounded that EPA omitted any reference to the ESA or the section 7 consultation requirement in the proposed rule for new power plants.”  

The letter requested all records, documents, and correspondence between the Department of the Interior, including FWS, and EPA on the decision not to consult or include ESA analysis in promulgating the rules by Monday, June 22, 2015. 

Read the full letter here. Read More

Committee Passes Critical Bipartisan Energy Infrastructure and Forest Management Bills

2015/06/11

Today, the Committee on Natural Resources approved six bills during a Full Committee markup on H.R. 387, H.R. 521, H.R. 1289, H.R. 1992, H.R. 2295, H.R. 2358, and H.R. 2647.


On the passage of H.R. 2295, the “National Energy Security Corridors Act,” introduced by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Rep. MacArthur commented:

"People and businesses all along the East Coast, especially in South Jersey, are paying too much to heat their homes with natural gas in the winter. Even the President has called for increased energy infrastructure in our country to help lower those energy costs.  My bill would do just that," Rep. MacArthur said. "By streamlining the permitting process for new natural gas pipelines on federal lands, we'll create jobs, update our outdated energy infrastructure, and bring our American energy policy into the 21st century."  

On the passage of H.R. 2358, the “Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act” introduced by Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Zinke commented:

“Just one tree hitting a power line is all it takes to financially devastate a co-op, destroy thousands of acres of forest land, and jeopardize our electric grid. This is wrong. We should be empowering our co-ops, not holding them liable for government inaction. Every Montanan knows our forests are a tinderbox and we have a tough fire season ahead of us. Any kind of inaction threatens human safety, wildlife habitat, and electricity access. Our electric utilities deserve consistent processes to better manage their rights-of-way to prevent wildfires. This bill does exactly that,” Rep. Zinke stated.

On the passage of H.R. 2647, the “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015,” introduced by Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Rep. Westerman commented:  

“I was pleased to see the Resilient Federal Forests Act quickly move through committee markup this week. This bill is simple. It protects our national forests through proper management practices. It creates healthier forests, cleaner water, cleaner air, and protects the lives and property of Americans living in or near our national forests. I look forward to the legislation coming to the House floor. I want to thank my Republican and Democratic colleagues for their work on this bill, as well as Chairman Bishop for his leadership in moving this bill through the Committee on Natural Resources,” Rep. Westerman said. 

For more information on votes on amendments, please visit the website. Read More

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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