Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Tara Sweeney to be Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released the following statement:
“Tara Sweeney is a superb choice with decades of experience empowering Indian and Alaska Native communities in the private sector. This nomination signifies the Trump administration’s commitment to bringing a business mindset to government and self-determination through economic empowerment. I look forward to working with her on the range of important issues within her purview at Interior.”
Tara Sweeney is currently the Executive Vice President of External Affairs for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. She is a tribal member of the Native Village of Ukpiaġvik (Barrow) and the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope.
Today, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator William B. “Brock” Long and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray concerning allegations of mishandling and misappropriation of emergency supplies provided by the federal government for the people of Puerto Rico by local government officials.
On October 12, 2017, the FBI San Juan Field Office announced its inquiry into the misappropriation of FEMA supplies disseminated to Puerto Rico’s municipalities. According to an FBI Special Agent in San Juan, the complaints include allegations that, “mayors of local municipalities, or people associated with their offices, are giving their political supporters special treatment, goods they’re not giving to other people who need them.”
“The Committee is very troubled by these allegations,” the letters state.
“With so many residents still in grave need of basic supplies, it is essential that assistance from the federal government is provided in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” the letters continue. “The public’s confidence in the integrity of FEMA’s distribution of emergency supplies is also imperative. Allegations that local elected officials are distributing life-sustaining FEMA emergency supplies based on political loyalty is deeply disturbing. Any persons misappropriating FEMA emergency supplies should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The letters request briefings from the FBI and FEMA by October 23, 2017.
Cosigners of the letter include Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR).
Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources heard testimony on a discussion draft of the “Opportunities for the Nation and States to Harness Onshore Resources Act” or “ONSHORE Act.” The bill allows states with established regulatory programs to seek primacy for the implementation of federal permitting responsibilities for oil and gas development on federal lands.
Cumbersome and unpredictable permitting processes currently discourage development on federal lands. Even despite lower royalty rates on federal lands producers often opt to do business on state and private lands.
“Inefficiencies and redundant requirements imposed by the federal government have discouraged oil and gas production on federal land,” Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said. “Not only do they already perform many of the regulatory functions performed by the BLM, but they do so more efficiently and with less cost.”
In 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took an average 257 days to process Applications for Permits to Drill (APD). By contrast, state agencies took an average of 30 days.
Such delays “deter companies from wanting to operate on federal lands, translating into lost federal revenue from the royalties generated,” Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Political Affairs Dan Naatz stated.
Not only does the current inefficient and duplicative federal regime forfeit federal revenue, it also deprives states of millions of dollars that would otherwise flow into their own treasuries.
“This is critical funding for Western states who rely on oil and gas revenues to fulfill budget priorities for local communities,” Naatz added.
Virtually all oil and gas producing states have developed rigorous, effective and responsive regulations that are aggressively enforced.
“[State regulatory regimes] are more comprehensive because they are local, they are the people, neighbors and friends, who do live there, that care about the land, that care about the water and want to be able to see responsible energy development,” Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) stated.
“The more participation the people have, the better,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said. “And nowhere do you have more participation than the local level. The closer to the local level the decisions are made, the more input there is from people. And that’s why I’m a big fan of getting these decisions back to state and local levels.”
Cathy Foerster, Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, testified to the superiority of state regulatory regimes and the difficulties imposed by federal duplication.
“Another problem with redundant oversight is that the federal regulations tend to be a one-size fits all approach, while the states develop their regulations to suit the geology, geography and other circumstances specific to their states,” Foerster said.
While energy production has increased in recent years overall, this growth has occurred largely on state and private lands.
The bill also allows states the option of administering the collection of their share of federal revenue – thereby eliminating the administrative fee charged by BLM.
“This draft bill will also ensure that the States receive their fair share of oil and gas revenues produced on federal land,” Gosar stated. [It] provides States with a path to maintain stewardship over their share of mineral revenue and utilize it for the benefit of their citizens.”Click here for more information. Read More
Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White to chair the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released the following statement:“Kathleen Hartnett White is a great choice to help the administration realign priorities at CEQ. Over the past eight years, this executive office has attempted to use the National Environmental Policy Act as a tool to stonewall any project with a federal nexus. I look forward to working with her on a long overdue streamlining of NEPA and other efforts to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the administrative state to people.” Read More
On Sunday, October 15, 2017 Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) will appear on CSPAN Newsmakers and Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson to discuss disaster response and recovery of hurricane impacted U.S. territories, western wildfires and efforts to reform of Antiquities Act of 1906.
Chairman Bishop on Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson
Sunday, October 15, 10:00 AM EST/MDT
Washington, D.C.'s ABC / WJLA (10:00AM EST)
Salt Lake City's CBS / KUTV (10:00 AM MDT)
Salt Lake City's KMYU / MyTV (10:30 AM MDT)
Click here for viewing information.
Chairman Bishop on C-SPAN Newsmakers
Sunday, October 15, 10:00 AM EST
Click here for viewing information.
Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3144 (Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA) and H.R. 3916 (Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA), the “Federally Integrated Species Health Act” or “FISH Act,” bills to improve the recovery of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed fish while providing certainty for water and power users.
“Clearly, the ESA process is broken and the status quo isn’t working for species, farmers and ranchers and rural communities that depend on our natural resources. Under the status quo, American taxpayers and ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the West spend literally billions of dollars each year resulting from conflicting or duplicative federal regulatory or judicial edicts under the guise of the ESA. These bills represent bipartisan, pragmatic solutions,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said.
The current hydropower system along the Columbia-Snake Rivers is held hostage to litigation and unpredictable federal rulings that could impose tens of millions of dollars on taxpayers and Pacific Northwest ratepayers with little additional benefit to endangered salmon. H.R. 3144 creates a more reliable and cost-efficient regulatory framework by providing federal agencies that operate Northwest hydropower dams with statutory clarity in the enforcement of the ESA, in line with a collaborative plan deemed scientifically sound by the previous two administrations, several states, tribes, utilities, ports and other stakeholders.
“The dams of the Columbia-Snake River system are multipurpose in that they provide hydropower, flood control, navigation, irrigated agriculture and recreation. The benefits of the dams cannot be measured by megawatts alone but in the overall value they provide the region,” United Power Trades Organization President Jack Heffling stated. “[Keeping the current federal plan] continues the programs that have proven extremely successful in migrating fish survival.”
“Eighty percent of PNGC’s power supply comes from the Bonneville Power Administration… PNGC values the clean, carbon free, flexible hydropower resources that BPA provides,” PNGC Power President and CEO Beth Looney stated. “If BPA’s rates continue to climb at their current trajectory, they will likely not be competitive with alternative power supply choices in the region at that time… as an electric cooperative, we have a responsibility to supply power to our members at an affordable rate whether that comes from Bonneville or elsewhere.”
The four dams along the Snake River produce enough renewable energy to power 1.8 million homes annually or the equivalent of two nuclear, three coal-fired or six gas-fired power plants.
Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Alan Mikkelsen expressed support to reduce litigation and refocus resources on the current operation plan while working towards “a quality long term [Federal Columbia River Power] System solution.”
“The need to balance the ongoing operations of the [Federal Columbia River Power] System and achieving compliance with environmental laws is what H.R. 3144 seeks to achieve,” Mikkelsen added.
H.R. 3916, a concept supported by President Obama in 2011, also eliminates redundancies and regulatory confusion across federal agencies related to ESA enforcement.
“H.R. 3916 is [an] important step in reducing wasted time and money and represents a practical, common-sense change… that we strongly support,” Executive Director of the Family Farm Alliance Dan Keppen stated. “The FISH Act provides an opportunity to enhance protections to threatened and endangered species by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government’s approach to species protection through better decision-making.”Read More
Today, the House passed an emergency aid package for hurricane and wildfire relief. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:
“This is an essential package to aid the West with severe wildfire and communities on the mainland and our Territories devastated by hurricanes. Congress must remain committed to providing not only the resources but the statutory tools needed to hasten recovery and, where possible, help mitigate future disasters. On both of these fronts, the Committee will continue its work to develop added measures that reduce red tape and provide responsible long term solutions.”Read More
Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) appointed Natural Resources Committee members to serve on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 2810) conference Committee, including Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Bruce Westerman (R-AR). Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released the following statement:“Reps. Cheney and Westerman bring invaluable expertise to the conference committee and I look forward to working with them to finalize this package with the Senate. They will play integral roles to promote greater stewardship of our natural resources, strengthen military readiness and help build a strong national defense.” Read More
By: Chairman Rob Bishop
In a Tuesday op-ed, I explained the constitutional threat posed by the Antiquities Act, and why its repeated abuse is inconsistent with the constitutional pillars of the rule of law and checks and balances. As it turns out, there's a reason the Founders chose these principles as the basis of our government: arbitrary rule has no incentive to be accountable to the people that policies affect. Without that accountability, political and ideological manipulation corrodes the balance of power.
Some of the most egregious abuses – the use of the Antiquities Act as a political weapon – happened under President Bill Clinton's administration.
In 1996, prior to the designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, Clinton's then-Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Katie McGinty stated the following, "I'm increasingly of the view that we should just drop these utah [sic] ideas. we [sic] do not really know how the enviros will react and I do think there is a danger of 'abuse' of the withdraw/antiquities authorities especially because these lands are not really endangered."
Could there be any clearer statement of the prioritization of political ideology over the will of people?
The monument was designated in the waning months of Clinton's re-election campaign. Its total acreage: 1.7 million -- three times the size of Rhode Island. No town halls, no public meetings, and no public comment sessions were ever held in Utah. No input was solicited from local stakeholders or land managers in the area. Utah's governor, congressional delegation, public officials, and residents from across the state all expressed outrage at the lack of prior consultation or warning of the designation. In what feels like symbolism, the proclamation wasn't even signed in Utah; it was signed in Arizona.
This story is one of many blatant abuses of the Antiquities Act.
The Trump administration is currently reviewing previous designations to ensure they're consistent with the law's intent. Without President Trump having even exercised his authority under the law, Democrats are making every attempt to force the release of the administration's ongoing deliberations. In a rich irony, for the first time, they are demanding that local communities have a voice in the president's use of the Antiquities Act.
"Let's see some transparency and public accountability," House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., recently said.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. said, "The public deserves better than predetermined political conclusions." The executive must "listen to and work with local communities," he added.
If only their thirst for accountability had made an appearance when previous administrations, in processes shrouded in secrecy, brushed aside the objections of local communities in Utah and other states.
Nonetheless, for those of us who have fought to bring some level of accountability to the law's use, this newfound desire for it is welcome. Ironically, it is also an admission of the act's underlying failures.
Last week, I introduced legislation to correct these failures and permanently address my colleagues' concerns. The National Monument Creation and Protection Act would, like the writers of the Antiquities Act intended, allow the president to unilaterally designate land up to 640 acres. Monument designations between 640 and 10,000 acres would be subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Designations between 10,000 and 85,000 acres would be required to obtain the approval of all county commissioners, state legislatures, and governors in the affected area. The bill also standardizes and limits the president's power to reshape monuments.
No longer would we have to blindly trust any president to do the right thing. These provisions ensure consultation with locals and robust scientific evaluation through public processes that would be required by law. It strengthens the president's authority to protect actual antiquities without the threat of disenfranchising people.
If my Democratic colleagues are serious about their calls for accountability, they will support this bill. Together, we have an opportunity to place people over politics and the rule of law over tyranny.
The Antiquities Act was created with noble intent, tailored for specific uses and limited circumstances. Let us restore this intent and enshrine that vision in law.Read More
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or the “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.
“Congress never intended to give one individual the power to unilaterally seize enormous swathes of our nation’s public lands… Our problem isn't President Obama or President Trump. It's the underlying law - a statute that provides authority to dictate national monument decisions in secrecy and without public input. The only path to the accountability we all seek – no matter which party controls the White House - is to amend the Act itself,” Bishop stated.
"Under this new, tiered framework, no longer would we have to blindly trust the judgement or fear the whims of any president. The bill ensures a reasonable degree of consultation with local stakeholders and an open public process would be required by law. It strengthens the president’s authority to protect actual antiquities without the threat of disenfranchising people.
"Ultimately, if enacted, it will strengthen the original intent of the law while also providing much needed accountability.”Read More