Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson this week supported a series of bills to bring greater transparency and accountability to actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). H.R. 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013, H.R. 4012, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013, and H.R. 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, were all passed by the House of Representatives and are now awaiting action by the U.S. Senate.
H.R. 1422, which makes a number of reforms to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board to ensure that EPA’s decisions are made on sound science, complements Simpson’s efforts to address concerns about the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program. In recent years the IRIS program has drawn harsh criticism from the science community. H.R. 1422 takes action based on findings from a National Academy of Sciences study that Simpson commissioned in 2011 when he chaired the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.
“The public needs to be able to trust that EPA’s policy decisions are based on good science and not swayed by politics,” said Simpson. “When we first examined the IRIS system, we found a broken process that lacked scientific accountability, and I’m pleased that Congress has taken up addition efforts to improve transparency and accountability and increase public participation in EPA’s decision making process.”
H.R. 4012 would ensure that the scientific data used by EPA for policy decisions is available to the public. The bill responds to concerns about the fact that the Obama Administration has not made public the data behind a number of its decisions and has refused to provide the information to Congress when requested. Similarly, H.R. 4795 would improve accountability and transparency in EPA’s permitting process for industrial projects.
“I have long expressed my concern about EPA’s appetite for aggressive regulation, a concern that is magnified by the fact that EPA cannot or refuses to provide the scientific data it uses to make these policies,” said Simpson. “These bills are reasonable and important measures to bring transparency and accountability to the regulatory process, and I am hopeful that the Senate will act on them quickly.”Read More
The following statement was issued by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson following the President’s Address to the Nation on his plans for immigration:
“Let me be clear, the President's actions tonight are illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to the way in which the American people expect the President and Congress to interact. They have the potential to throw us into a Constitutional Crisis.
“Apparently the President didn't get the message the American people sent to him two weeks ago. At the same time, I strongly believe my party's response to this inappropriate executive action should be measured and realistic. We cannot shut down the government, impeach the President, or allow this issue to impede progress on deficit reduction, tax reform, or other critical priorities for the American people. Instead, we should fight this edict early next year in any realistic way we can, fight the President in the courts, and move expeditiously to enact a more responsible, effective and lasting approach to immigration reform.”
Idaho Congressman Simpson today supported H.R. 5682, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would put an end to years of bureaucratic delays and allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project.
The Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil from the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States. Because the pipeline would connect the United States with a foreign country, it requires a Presidential Permit issued by the State Department. The State Department must find that the project would serve the national interest before it can issue the permit.
The first application to the U.S. State Department to build the pipeline was submitted in 2008, and after a thorough environmental review, in 2011 an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) found that the pipeline would have limited adverse environmental impacts during its construction and operation. Despite this, President Obama denied the Presidential Permit request in January of 2012, requiring the permitting process to begin anew. The State Department issued a second Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in January of 2014, confirming once again that the pipeline would have limited adverse environmental impact.
“Moving forward with the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline will create jobs and reduce our dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil,” said Simpson. “The President is yet again playing political games with our energy security, and ignoring the benefits of this project without a scientific basis for doing so.”
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada has estimated that it will invest $7 billion in the United States to build the pipeline, and that up to 20,000 jobs would be directly created by the pipeline’s construction. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the Keystone XL pipeline would be able to move 830,000 barrels of oil per day, which represents about half of the amount the U.S. imports from the Middle East.
“This project has broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and it has been reviewed and studied for six years and found to be environmentally safe,” Simpson said. “I hope the Senate and the President approve this bill quickly, because the economic and energy security implications for this country are too important to delay any longer.”
H.R. 5682 authorizes the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline. The bill deems the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Secretary of State in January of 2014 sufficient to satisfy all the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and any other federal law that requires federal agency consultation or review.
The House passed H.R. 5682 by a vote of 252-161. It will now move to the Senate for further consideration.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today released a statement on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) completion of a key volume of the Safety Evaluation Report for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Storage Project. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and has the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.
“The findings of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the Safety Evaluation Report provide the strongest evidence yet that Yucca Mountain is safe and that the project should move forward,” said Simpson. “Yucca Mountain has been the law of the land for nearly 30 years, and we have spent $11 billion dollars on the effort up to this point. It is mindboggling that the administration continues to block the project despite overwhelming scientific evidence confirming its safety.”
The NRC originally received an application from the Department of Energy (DOE) in June of 2008 for a license to construct and operate the nation’s first geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. In March of 2010, the Obama Administration filed a motion to withdraw its application, and the NRC unilaterally halted its technical review of Yucca Mountain in September 2011. The completion of the third volume of its Safety Evaluation Report follows an August 2013 decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision ordering the NRC to continue its review of the licensing application at least until available funds are expended. The Court found that the NRC was “simply defying a law enacted by Congress, and…is doing so without any legal basis.”
“It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer money on political games and move forward on Yucca Mountain,” Simpson said. “All of the technological developments that are happening now at the Idaho National Lab and elsewhere in the field of nuclear energy will ultimately depend on our ability to find a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel. In light of this new NRC report, I hope that the administration will rethink its baseless objections on Yucca Mountain.”Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined a number of western colleagues in urging House leadership to secure full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) programs for fiscal year 2015. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Simpson and others urged that the federal government fulfill its responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal land by fully funding both programs.
Legislation authorizing full funding of PILT expired at the end of September. The letter reads: “While it must be our ultimate goal to enact a long-term, sustainable solution to eliminate the ongoing uncertainty our counties face [while Congress authorizes these programs on a year-to-year basis], an extension and full-funding of these programs is essential to address immediate needs…Without congressional action, we risk severely crippling these counties’ ability to operate.
“Equally important is the funding that more than 700 forest counties and school districts receive through SRS. These payments honor the over 100 year old contract between the federal government and counties housing the 193 million acres of National Forest land. Due to extremely low productivity on the federal forests over the past two decades, these funds are more critical to counties’ well-being than ever. ”
Simpson has been a long-time advocate for extending the existing mandatory authorization of PILT. “PILT is the equivalent of the federal government paying the property taxes it owes to the counties where it owns land. If we fail to fully fund the government’s obligations under PILT, the federal government is essentially failing to pay its taxes and fulfill its commitments to counties throughout Idaho and the West. As a result, many counties—especially those with a large percentage of federal land—will be unable to provide essential services. These counties know that PILT is not an optional ‘nice to have’ but critical to their ability to serve their communities.”
The letter was signed by 41 members and delivered to House leadership on October 15, 2014.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today expressed continued opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to expand federal jurisdiction over water. This week the Small Business Administration expressed “deep concern” in a letter to the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the impact of the rule on agriculture and other small businesses. The letter echoed Simpson’s call to withdraw the rule.
“I have long expressed concern about the negative impact that the EPA’s attempted water grab would have on agriculture in Idaho. Unfortunately, we are now seeing these predictions play out,” said Simpson. “The more this rule is analyzed, the more ridiculous the EPA’s claims that it won’t negatively affect agriculture and other industries become. With the SBA weighing in that the rule would have ‘direct and significant impact on small businesses,’ it’s time to renew the call to withdraw this rule.”
This week Simpson joined colleagues in other dairy states in sending a letter to the EPA, the Corps, and USDA expressing concern about the impact that the rule would have on the dairy industry, among others. He crafted language in both the FY15 House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill and the FY15 House Energy and Water Appropriations bill to prevent the rule from moving forward.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported passage of H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act. This bill would allow employees to keep their work sponsored health plans by ensuring that existing group health plans can continue to be sold through 2019. It passed the House 247 to 167.
Last year, millions of plans in the individual insurance market were cancelled due to Obamacare mandates. Now, as many as 50 million workers with full coverage could face cancellation or disruption because their work sponsored plans would not meet new minimal essential coverage requirements.
H.R. 3522 ensures that group health plans that were offered in 2013 remain available and allows small businesses and their employees to purchase these plans regardless of whether they were on them in 2013. The Administration has provided limited relief for group plans that do not comply with Obamacare, but that relief only lasts through 2016. This bill would extend that opportunity to those not previously on such plans, and add three years of reprieve.
The bill expands on the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013,” which applied to individual market plans, and allowed individuals to keep their plans. That bill passed the House late last year.
“The President repeatedly promised that if Americans liked their health plans, they could keep them,” Said Congressman Simpson. “We now know that is not true. This bill would allow the Administration to start making good on that promise and also allow for more affordable coverage options to remain available to more Americans.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson cosponsored and supported final passage of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, that supports the existing partnership between states and the federal government by preventing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This bill addresses widespread concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new proposed rule expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the country. H.R. 5078 passed the House with a bipartisan vote 262-152.
Simpson, who has long been a leader on this issue, included language in his FY2015 House Energy and Water Appropriations Act and authored language in the FY2015 House Interior and Environment Appropriations Act to prohibit the agencies from finalizing a rule on this issue, which the agencies proposed earlier this year.
“The EPA’s efforts to expand its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act by redefining waters of the U.S. have, not surprisingly, resulted in widespread uncertainty and deep concern for the agriculture sector in our state,” said Simpson. “I’m pleased that Congress has acted on this issue to recognize the existing and successful partnerships between states, land users, conservationists, and the federal government and stop the Obama Administration from expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the U.S.”
H.R. 5078 is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.
Legislation authored by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson that would authorize important but routine maintenance at Smith Gulch on the Salmon River in Idaho has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 398 to 1. H.R. 4283 would allow the use of limited maintenance equipment needed to maintain the routine functions and safety of the existing lodge.
“This legislation clarifies Congress’ intent of the 2004 amendments to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act which continued the existing use and occupancy of commercial services in this corridor of the Salmon River,” Simpson said. “The use of maintenance equipment would allow the lodge to eliminate the reliance on outdated energy sources and replace them with modest renewable energy sources, all while complying with existing laws.”
Currently, the Forest Service does not believe it has clear authorization to permit the use of the equipment necessary for the general upkeep of the facilities at the lodge. This bill clarifies the authorization so the corridor can be managed as it was intended under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
H.R. 4283 will now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today hailed passage of legislation to clarify federal regulation of pesticides by the House of Representatives. H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, would remove duplicative requirements that have added layers of paperwork on top of day-to-day operations for small businesses, farmers, and local governments by clarifying that pesticides which are already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are not also regulated under the Clean Water Act. The bill, of which Simpson is a cosponsor, reinstates EPA’s long-standing position on the issue, which was overturned as the result of a lawsuit in 2009.
“This ruling didn’t make applying pesticides any safer; all it did was create duplicative and unnecessary new regulations that cost money and increase the risk of litigation for local governments, irrigation districts, and farmers and ranchers,” said Simpson. “Passing this legislation is common sense, and I’m hopeful that the Senate will act quickly on the bill so that we can address this issue once and for all.”
Simpson has been a cosponsor of similar legislation since 2011. H.R. 935 is bipartisan and widely supported in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. After passing the House by a vote of 267-161 today, it is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.Read More
2312 Rayburn HOB
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Michael (Mike) K. Simpson is serving his eighth term in the House of Representatives for Idaho’s Second Congressional District.
Mike serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He is the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. He also serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. These committees have jurisdiction over funding for a number of programs critical to Idaho, including the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, our National Parks, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Smithsonian Institute.
Simpson is one of the House’s leading advocates for a new energy policy and a renewed commitment to research and development of improved nuclear energy technologies. Mike has also gained national attention for his bill to split the massive, overburdened 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as well as his bill, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act which addresses the concerns of economic growth and stability for rural Idaho and resolves long time wilderness debate over the Boulder-White Clouds.
His political career began in 1980, when he was elected to the Blackfoot City Council. In 1984, he was elected to the Idaho Legislature where he served until 1998, the last six years serving as Speaker. Simpson was born in Burley, Idaho and raised in Blackfoot. He graduated from Utah State University and earned his DMD from Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduation, he joined his father and uncle at the Simpson Family Dental Practice in Blackfoot.
Mike is an avid golfer and enjoys painting. He has been married to his wife Kathy for over 40 years and they live in Idaho Falls.
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Congrats to Shannon Bragg-Sitton from ID for receiving Mary Jane Oestmann Professional Women’s Achievement Award from American Nuclear Soc.
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Simpson supports Keystone XL Pipeline, calls on the White House to stop delaying project http://t.co/5CDkJ2AUPv
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Please join Kathy and I in our prayers for their family and the entire Idaho National Guard community.