“This report substantiates concerns that the federal government has no system to track time or costs associated with NEPA, which is one of the most expansive regulatory laws in the country. The findings of this report are not insignificant and deserve to be given considerable attention and oversight moving forward. The National Environmental Policy Act is important for many reasons, however, I remain concerned about the exorbitant costs and delays associated with the process. I am also very troubled by the constant use of NEPA as a litigious weapon to halt or delay projects that wealthy special interest groups don’t like. This report will be instrumental as we work toward finding solutions for some of the biggest problems plaguing this 70’s-era law,” said Bishop.
§ GAO report confirms that no reliable data exists on the costs of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). (pg. 1)
§ Agencies do not track the number of analyses performed each year required by NEPA. (pg. 6)
§ Agencies do not routinely track the total cost of performing analysis required under NEPA. (pg. 10)
§ According to the Department of Energy, the cost paid to contractors (not including Agency time and resources) for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) averages to $6.6 million but is as much as $85 million. (pg. 12)
§ Government-wide information is intended to be tracked by the EPA but GAO found this information to be inconsistent and unreliable. (pg. 8)
§ It takes an average of 4.6 years to complete an EIS. Data shows that between 2000 and 2012, the time taken to complete an EIS increased at an average rate of 34.2 days a year. (pg. 13)
Litigation and Delays:
§ GAO confirms that most plaintiffs are “public interest groups” defined by CEQ as “citizen groups and environmental nongovernmental organizations.” (pg. 20 fn 42)
§ GAO confirms that one individual lawsuit can “affect numerous federal decisions” and have a “far-reaching impact”. (pg. 19)
§ DOJ’s Case Management System only tracks limited information on cases handled by the Environment and Natural Resources Division. (pg. 33)
§ When asked by Congressman Bishop and Chairman Hastings in May 2013 about the current status of NEPA litigation, the DOJ noted that between FY 2009 and March 2013 there were 1,022 cases open during that period and more than $22 million was spent on attorney fees for NEPA-related cases. The attorney fees do not include the money spent on agency staff and other case-related resources. (Information received September 25, 2013).Read More
In the letter, Hatch, Lee, Bishop, Chaffetz and Stewart wrote that “We strongly support Governor Herbert and echo his concerns, expressed in his April 2nd letter to you, that going forward with the plan to transport the Nevada cattle to Utah may endanger the health of Utah herds and place Utah state employees and other Utah residents in danger.” The letter adds that “endangering [the cattle industry], particularly when there are alternatives available for selling the animals in Nevada, would be imprudent and careless.”
A signed copy of the letter to the BLM can be found HERE, and the text is below:
Mr. Neil Kornze
Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street, N.W., Room 5665
Washington, D.C. 20240
Ms. Amy Lueders
BLM Nevada State Office
1340 Financial Boulevard
Reno, Nevada 89502
Dear Mr. Kornze and Ms. Lueders
Over the past several weeks, Utah leaders have expressed to you in letters, hearings, and personal conversations our concerns with the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to transport cattle seized in Nevada to Utah for sale. As members of the Utah delegation, we again strongly urge you to develop a plan for the cattle which does not involve transporting them to Utah. The fact that the BLM is legally able to transport the cattle to Utah does not mean it would be wise to do so. Under the circumstances, bringing the cattle to Utah would be foolish and unnecessary.
We strongly support Governor Herbert and echo his concerns, expressed in his April 2nd letter to you, that going forward with the plan to transport the Nevada cattle to Utah may endanger the health of Utah herds and place Utah state employees and other Utah residents in danger. With 5,589 beef producers and 364,744 beef cattle, the Utah cattle industry is an important part of the state’s economy. Endangering this industry, particularly when there are alternatives available for selling the animals in Nevada, would be imprudent and careless.
We also share the concerns of Governor Herbert and other stakeholders that bringing any of the animals to Utah—not just those determined to be feral—may precipitate a needless confrontation. Regardless of who is to blame for the current environment, you clearly have the power to lower the emotions involved by keeping the cattle out of Utah. As Governor Herbert wrote, “the proposed transaction is a Nevada issue, involving Nevada residents and Nevada livestock.”
We ask that BLM please implement an immediate change of course. Simply postponing your plan will not solve the problem. We hope to work productively with you in your respective roles in the coming years, and to that end we hope you will recognize the very legitimate concerns of Utah leaders and respond accordingly.
The Budget Control Act of 1974 requires Congress to establish and pass a budget. While the Senate has been delinquent in their responsibilities, the House has passed a budget each year over the last four years.
“The framework of the federal budget should support the constitutional responsibilities of the federal government. Unfortunately, over the years, this has changed and spending has focused less on Congress’ constitutional role and more on programs that expand the scope of the federal government. This has resulted in budgets that don’t balance and an unacceptable deficit. This budget balances, focuses on core constitutional duties such as national defense, and cuts the growth of spending. While I may not support every single aspect of it, this is the responsible path forward and I was pleased to lend my support to the measure,” said Bishop.Read More
WASHINGTON— Today the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee held a hearing to consider legislation, including the discussion draft for the re-authorization of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), which expires next year. Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) and Ranking Member of the full committee Peter DeFazio (OR-04) addressed the importance of updating the law and have committed to work together to make much-needed improvements in advance of its expiration. They issued the following joint statement regarding today’s hearing:
"Re-authorization of the Federal Lands and Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004 is an area where we can work together to improve government and protect the taxpayer. We heard testimony today on draft legislation that seeks to address problems we have had with the program over the last ten years. There is still a lot of work to do, including addressing special recreation permits and the services of outfitters and guides. We look forward to working together on this legislation in the coming months," said Congressmen DeFazio and Bishop.
“When new national monuments are established by a President, there is absolutely no requirement that the public be given an opportunity to share their concerns or opinions about the potential designation. We’re finding that this can result in complications about the management and execution of the designation itself. The application of NEPA would bring such issues to light prior to the designation being made. National monuments created by Congress are required to go through a public process that includes transparency and public participation. It’s common sense that the public should be involved regardless of whether or not Congress or the President initiates the designation. Today’s bill is a win for the American people,” said Congressman Bishop.
Specifically, H.R. 1459:
· Classifies National Monument declarations under the Antiquities Act as a major federal action, which would require the application of NEPA;
· Allows for a temporary “emergency” designation (5,000 acres or less for a three-year period) by the president if there is an imminent threat to an American antiquity. After three years, the designation would only become permanent if the NEPA process is completed or it is approved by Congress;
· Limits National Monument declarations to no more than one per state during any four-year presidential term in office, unless otherwise approved by Congress;
· Prevents the inclusion of private property in monument declarations without the prior approval and written consent of property owners; and
· Requires within one year of a declaration, a feasibility study and an estimated cost to taxpayers associated with managing the monument in perpetuity, including any loss of federal and state revenue.Read more about the legislation here Read More
The Antiquities Act was established in 1906 as a way for the president to single-handedly create new national monuments. The law provides the president with the express authority to proclaim “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” as national monuments, “the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
Today, the new era of national monuments consist of vast swaths of vacant federal land, not specific structures or landmarks.
The Antiquities Act followed on the heels of Westward Expansion, which brought looting and vandalism upon antiquities found on public land throughout newer states and former territories. The environmental laws and protections we have today, such as the National Historic Preservation Act, were not yet in existence, and the president needed a way to expeditiously protect federal lands under imminent threat. The very first national monument was established just three months after the law was enacted. President Theodore Roosevelt designated 1,152 acres in Wyoming as the Devils Tower National Monument. In the 108 years since, the law has been used a total of 137 times by 15 presidents.
While the intended purpose of the Antiquities Act is to protect artifacts of cultural and historic significance, it has been used over the past 108 years as a political arrow in the quiver of many presidents. The act has allowed both Democratic and Republican presidents to work outside of the transparent public process that all other individuals and federal agencies must follow. This is one of the law’s major flaws.
We don’t disagree that many of the spaces and places protected over the last century are worthy of national monument designations. However, not all of these designations were made with public involvement or widespread local support. Federal designations have too great of an impact on local communities for them to be made without the involvement of those closest to the ground. If the proposed designation has widespread support at the local level, presidents shouldn’t have a problem moving the designation through a public process.
In Congress, our committees and subcommittees hear from expert witnesses and local officials as part of legislative review. If the committee review process is positive, bills are more likely to move through the system. If committee reviews go badly, bills are rightfully stalled until the sticking points are addressed. Presidents are not subjected to these same checks and balances when it comes to the Antiquities Act. They are not required to engage the public throughout the process.
Like Congress, the president ought to formally be required to consider the input of local communities and states prior to declaring new national monuments. The inequity of unilateral action lends itself to heavy political influence and pressure from special interests. This is why we are supporting the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act, which would require the application of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to future national monument designations.
Though NEPA is another law largely in need of reform, public participation is at the core of its process, and by making this a requirement of future monument declarations we can ensure that those on the ground have a say in the process. The American people deserve to have input on new policies and laws that will affect their communities and livelihoods. The legislation importantly gives everyone a voice in the process, not just those who happen to have the ear of the president.here. Read More
In what's shaping to be a battle on the authority of the executive branch, House Republicans and conservationists are squaring off over a century-old law that gives presidents the authority to designate lands as national monuments.
A coalition of more than 50 activist groups sent a letter Monday to U.S. House members urging them to kill a bill that would drastically change the 1906 Antiquities Act and the national monument designation process. For Wyoming, the Antiquities Act has little significance aside from its historic effect. The state has the only exemption from the law in the nation.
The 108-year-old law allows presidents to unilaterally declare historically or environmentally significant lands national monuments. The legislation in question, HR 1495, requires any presidentially proposed national monument to churn through a public comment period and other measures outlined under the National Environmental Protection Act, a law used by Congress and federal agencies to quantify environmental impacts. The legislation would also limit national monument designations to one per state per presidential term.
Lawmakers in the chamber will vote on the legislation Wednesday.
Conservation groups like the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society and the National Parks Conservation Association banded together to express outrage over the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. One of their main talking points was the bipartisan use of the Antiquities Act.
Republican President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 ushered the law into use when he declared Wyoming’s Devils Tower the first national monument. Since Roosevelt, 16 other presidents used the act to establish national monuments. Eight are Democrats. Eight are Republican, according to the letter. President George W. Bush used the law to create five new monuments. President Barack Obama has created 10 during his tenure in the White House.
The National Park Service manages 78 monuments. The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service oversee more than 25 others.
The law has also secured land that has eventually become some of the nation’s most popular national parks. Presidents used the act to designate Grand Canyon, Zion, Arcadia and parts of Grand Teton National Park as national monuments before they gained park status, the letter states.
According to the letter, a president’s ability to act without Congress allows for swift action “to protect significant, historic, and scenic objects on federal lands.”
The legislation would throw major speed bumps in the way of presidents who are trying to see a national monument fast-tracked into existence. For the 23 projects that funneled through the NEPA process in 2011, the median time from the beginning to the end of the process was 79 months, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency.
There are times when antiquities, artifacts, prehistoric fossils, public lands, ocean resources or war memorials can be at risk, said Joan Anzelmo, spokeswoman for the Coalition of the National Park Service Retirees, a group that signed the letter.
“It would be insane if Congress were to ruin this act that has provided so much for the American People and the American economy,” Anzelmo said.
House Republicans say the bill isn't an attempt to strip the president of authority or jeopardize sensitive land. It’s about leveling the playing field between the president and Congress, said Melissa Subbotin, a spokeswoman for Bishop.
When the act first became law, historic artifacts and lands were often the collateral damage of western expansion, Subbotin said.
“The act was a tool to protect areas under imminent threat,” she said. “Since 1906, we’ve had a lot of new laws put into place that are designed to do the same thing in a more thoughtful way.”
Aside from the NEPA process, there are a string of public hearings and other debates in the Capitol before a congressional proposal designating a national monument can become law, Subbotin said.
“It’s an open and public process, everybody has an opportunity to weigh in and it’s done transparently,” she said. “This process frustrates those that are simply looking at quickly seeing a public lands’ designation. It’s not as much about quantity as it is quality.”
Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo, said her colleague’s legislation is “logical,” despite its limited impace on the state.
“A national monument designation is a major federal action,” she said. “All other major federal actions require the NEPA process. If we are going to impose that rigorous evaluation of other federal actions, certainly the classification of new national monuments should jump through the same hoop.”
Opponents of the new law are touting the economic benefits national monuments bring to communities. The letter cites New Mexico as an example how national monuments boost local economies.
Following the March 2013 designation of the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, the town of Taos’ lodging tax revenue increased by 21 percent and other tourism-based revenue in Taos County jumped by $3.7 million in the second half of 2013 over the same period of 2012, according to data from the Chamber of Commerce.
“If we want to have a conversation about how to protect America’s lands, this isn’t the way to have it,” said Meghan Kissell, a spokeswoman for the Conservation Lands Foundation.
WASHINGTON– Next week, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1459, the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act. This legislation ensures that the American people have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process leading up to a new national monument designation. The legislation ensures that when presidents make a national monument declaration, it is done transparently and with the application of the nation’s primary public involvement law, the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, a century old law, the President can single-handedly designate a national monument without fulfilling the NEPA process. Subsequently, the President does not have to take into consideration input from the American people or local citizens. In contrast, a national monument established by Congress goes through an open and deliberative process that includes input and participation from the public.
The Antiquities Act was passed before any of today’s modern environmental and preservation laws were enacted and was intended to be used in emergencies to protect historic artifacts and sites of scientific value from imminent threat confined to the smallest area possible.Read More
“The President’s use of the Antiquities Act to expand the Coastal California National Monument is disappointing to say the least. It is also purely political and undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation. The House passed legislation to incorporate these public lands into the national monument with bipartisan support- both at the committee level and on the House floor. The fact that this bill hasn’t yet been considered in the Senate is not an oversight, it was intentional. The legislation was held up in the Senate so the President could usurp the congressional process. In other words, the House was punked by the President. There is no immediate urgency to make this a national monument. Had the Senate done its job, the bill would have been considered and passed under regular order. There was broad support for the measure. The President seems to view the legislative process as relevant only when it is politically convenient. Unfortunately, that is not how our founding fathers intended for the federal government to operate. I am troubled by the way President Obama and Harry Reid misuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. This only hurts our country as we move forward tackling some of the biggest issues facing the American people.”
The House passed H.R. 1441 sponsored by Jared Huffman (CA-02) in July 2013. The bill sought to add the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument. Companion legislation was introduced by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.Read More
123 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
A public school teacher turned public servant, Rob Bishop represents Utah’s First Congressional District in the U.S. Congress.
Rob Bishop is a life-long resident of the First District, with the exception of two years he spent in Germany while serving a mission for the LDS Church. He was born and raised in Kaysville, Utah, where he graduated from Davis High School with High Honors. He later graduated magna cum laude from the University of Utah with a degree in Political Science. He has been a resident of Brigham City since 1974.
Rob is married to Jeralynn Hansen, a former Miss Brigham City. They have five children: Shule, Jarom, Zenock, Maren, and Jashon. They have six grandchildren- three boys and three girls.
Before coming to Congress, Rob was active in community theater, which is how he met his wife many years ago. As an avid baseball fan, Rob is a season ticket holder to the Salt Lake Bees and has coached in multiple leagues.
Rob is a devoted public servant. He has served his community in the State Legislature. During his sixteen years representing the Brigham City area, Rob distinguished himself as a leader. His last two years he was unanimously elected to serve as Speaker of the House. He also co-founded the Western States Coalition, a multi-state organization dedicated to protecting states’ rights and promoting Western interests and values.
Rob has served his political party for more than thirty years. Rob has worked at nearly every level of the Republican party, from precinct chair to member of the Republican National Committee, and has spent years working in every corner of this District. He has gone from Vice-Chair of the Davis County Teenage Republicans in 1968 to the advisor of the Utah Teenage Republicans in 1996. In 1997, he was elected Chairman of the Utah Republican Party. He served for two terms.
Rob has dedicated his life to teaching. He started teaching at Box Elder High School (BEHS) in Brigham City in 1974. From 1980 through 1985 he taught German and coached debate at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden, Utah, before returning to BEHS. Before retiring in December of 2002, he taught advanced placement courses in government and U.S. History, while serving as the Chair of the History Department at BEHS.
On January 7, 2003, Rob Bishop was sworn in as the new Congressman from Utah’s First Congressional District, replacing the retiring Representative Jim Hansen. For his first term, he was appointed to serve on his top three choices for House Committees – the Armed Services Committee, the Resources Committee, and the Science Committee – all three of which handle critical issues for Utah’s First District. In January 2005, Rob was sworn into a second term. He was subsequently appointed by the Speaker to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee, the legislative “gatekeeper” for all bills coming to the House floor. During the 111th Congress, Rob was instrumental in founding the10th Amendment Task Force- a coalition of House Members committed to working toward disbursing power in Washington back to the people and states.
Rob is now in his sixth term in the House. During the 113th Congress, Rob will serve on the House Armed Services Committee and the powerful House Rules Committee. Rob will also continue serving on the Committee on Natural Resources where he is Chairman of the Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee.
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