Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement regarding the resignation of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke:
“In the world of Washington politics, Zinke was an anomaly. He had a vision of a better future - an efficient department; a park system without a backlog; a staff who listened. Where others dithered he got stuff done. We owe him a debt of gratitude.”### Read More
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 3119, the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act. This bipartisan bill provides states and tribes with the necessary tools to humanely manage sea lions that have migrated outside their historic range and pose an imminent threat to fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
“The habitual Washington D.C. knee-jerk defense of the status quo is harming endangered species instead of protecting them. Existing regulations are leading to the decline in endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest, a key source of ecological vibrancy in the region. This bipartisan bill corrects the problem by giving states and tribes the tools to humanely manage sea lions and prevent further destruction of endangered fish and the region’s economy.” -- Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah)
“Today’s passage of our bill to control sea lions was a hard-fought victory – it’s a personal victory for each of us who treasure our Northwest salmon runs and want to see them preserved for generations to come. I’m grateful for the partnership of my colleague Kurt Schrader, and for Senators Risch and Cantwell for shepherding this through the Senate. I’m so pleased we are able to give Northwest fish managers this critical tool to help save our salmon and steelhead runs.” -- U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.)
“This has been an issue that I have worked on since first coming to Congress nine years ago. I want to thank everyone – Rep. Herrera Beutler, Senators Risch and Cantwell, and our states, tribes, and local communities – for the exceptional work to get this bill over the finish line this year. In the last few years especially, we’ve seen a record number of sea lions in the Columbia River from Astoria to Bonneville Dam. Ratepayers and my constituents are paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually towards the largest mitigation program in the country for threatened and endangered salmon. These sea lions, whose population has become totally inconsistent with their historic range, have been undoing all of that work by feasting on the endangered species. Our legislation will provide a great step forward in eliminating this threat to our iconic Oregon salmon that are struggling to survive once and for all.” – U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)
“Eastern Washington believes in both supporting clean, renewable hydropower and protecting our endangered salmon, a species so unique to the history of our region. Over the past 80 years, we’ve seen steady increases in salmon recovery rates on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, largely due to increased technology and innovation at our dams. This bill is another important step in protecting our endangered salmon. By mitigating sea lion predation we can increase fish recovery without costing Washingtonians hundreds of millions of dollars.” – U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
“Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest only to see invasive sea lions take a bite out of the population. I applaud colleagues in the House and Senate who have worked together in our bipartisan effort to improve management of pinnipeds threatening our salmon with this legislation.” – U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.)
Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to redefine the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.
“Thanks to the great leadership of Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler at EPA, a new definition of WOTUS will bring much needed clarity and certainty for America’s farmers, contractors, landowners, and ranchers. The previous WOTUS rule from 2015 was a reckless expansion of federal control. EPA did an excellent job of including the voices of many who are directly impacted by the WOTUS rule. Today is a win for many Utahns and Americans across the country.”
Today, the House passed H.R. 3008 (U.S. Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas), H.R. 5513 (U.S. Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif.), H.R. 6108 (U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga.), H.R 6118 (U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C.), H.R. 6665 (U.S. Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam), H. Res. 792 (U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y.), S. 245 (U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.) and S. 2511 (U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.). Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop issued the following statement:
“These bills honor our history, further our conservation efforts and restore local authority over our public lands. I hope my Senate colleagues will act quickly to move these bills to the president’s desk.”
H.R. 3008, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the George W. Bush Childhood Home, located at 1412 West Ohio Avenue, Midland, Texas.
H.R. 5513, provides for an exchange of lands with San Bernardino County, California and enhances management of lands within the San Bernardino National Forest.
H.R. 6108, provides for partnerships among State and local governments, regional entities, and the private sector to preserve, conserve, and enhance the visitor experience at nationally significant battlefields of the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War.
H.R. 6118, directs the Secretary of the Interior to annually designate at least one city in the United States as an "American World War II Heritage City.”
H.R. 6665, amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to apply to territories of the United States, establishes offshore wind lease sale requirements, and provides dedicated funding for coral reef conservation.
H. Res. 792, urges the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the historical significance of Roberto Clemente's place of death near Piñones in Loiza, Puerto Rico, by adding it to the National Register of Historic Places.
S. 245, amends the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self Determination Act of 2005.
S. 2511, requires the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to carry out a program on coordinating the assessment and acquisition by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of unmanned maritime systems, to make available to the public data collected by the Administration using such systems.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement today after the House passed S. 245, which benefits Indian tribes developing energy resources and forest management procedures.
“Indian tribes are an integral part of our country’s culture and economy, and this bill provides them with the resources necessary to stimulate energy development and improve forest management. I applaud my colleagues in both the House and Senate for their work on these issues.” – Chairman Rob Bishop
“We’ve seen catastrophic fires in the Pacific Northwest, devastating our public and tribal lands. When we use excess forest products for biomass production, we can reduce forest fire risk by keeping our lands healthier and also create a stable energy source. I believe our tribes can and should be taking a leading role in this effort. That’s why I was proud to support the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act, and specifically the tribal biomass demonstration provision, to help make that a reality.” – U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
“Promoting energy projects is critical for economic development throughout Indian Country. Native communities face a significant number of obstacles to developing and delivering energy on their land. I have always said that Alaska Natives and American Indians are the best caretakers of their lands. Tribal self-determination is all about empowering Native communities with the tools and authority to manage their resources, which this legislation will promote. I am particularly pleased that the bill includes a tribal biomass demonstration program, which mirrors a provision in my Native American Energy Act. I appreciate Chairman Hoeven’s willingness to continue working on Indian energy and his commitment to hold a hearing on my Native American Energy Act next Congress, and I thank him for his leadership on this issue. With the President’s signature on S.245, Native communities across the country are one step closer to energy independence.” – U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
“Indian Country should have the opportunity and autonomy to develop natural resources to boost tribal economies. Empowering tribal communities and streamlining the energy development application process is a win-win, and I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation is headed to President Trump for his signature into law.” – U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.)
The bill would amend certain provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, primarily impacting the process by which a tribe may obtain Tribal Energy Resource Agreements (TERA). Additional provisions in the bill would provide tribal energy activities and projects with greater access to Department of Energy technical and scientific resources, establish a biomass demonstration project, and streamline the energy appraisal and permitting processes. The provisions contained in the bill are intended to help tribes exercise greater self-determination in the production of energy on their lands.
S. 245 would also remove other federal disincentives to developing tribal trust energy resources and assist Indian tribes interested in pursuing the development of these resources consistent with the federal policy of promoting Indian self-determination.
Stakeholder Support for S. 245:
“The Intertribal Timber Council supports this legislation because it will help protect Indian trust lands from threats of wildfire while promoting economic opportunities in Indian Country.” – Intertribal Timber Council
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement today regarding the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) updated assessment of the Permian Basin:
“The USGS’s latest assessment of the Permian Basin has doubled our nation’s onshore resources and is a homerun for our economy. It is imperative that we continue to promote policies and technology that will allow our nation to harness this undiscovered wealth. I applaud Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior for the ongoing work that guarantees the nation’s thriving energy sector. Thanks to their leadership, the United States has launched to the forefront of global energy production. Today’s announcement only solidifies America’s goal for energy dominance, and highlights the continued importance Western states will play in the future of our country.”
DOI’s announcement estimates that 71 billion barrels of oil currently reside in the Permian Basin. According to DOI, only 95 billion barrels are currently estimated onshore; thus, this reservoir in the Permian Basin would nearly double U.S. oil reserves.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement today regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) updated sage grouse recovery plan:
“Today’s Environmental Impact Statement signals a positive step promoting locally developed state recovery plans for the Sage Grouse. This is a stark transition from the heavy-handed ‘one size fits all’ federal approach of the Obama administration. While much remains to be done, state and local authorities recognize their voices are being heard by the Trump administration. We are one step closer to making federal micromanagement and fears of frivolous litigation by the environmental activist industry a thing of the past.”
Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) sent a letter to Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares, Puerto Rican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, and Puerto Rican House Speaker Carlos Mendez Nunez, regarding the next steps in resolving Puerto Rico’s political status.
“As you know, together with almost 60 other Members, we cosponsored the bipartisan bill authored by Resident Commissioner González-Colón to enable the admission of the territory as a State of the Union, H.R. 6246. This bill is the natural progression following the two most recent plebiscites conducted in Puerto Rico in 2012 and 2017, in which the voters overwhelmingly supported statehood…
“Given the overwhelming, pro-statehood results of the past two votes, we propose the following solution: legislate a new plebiscite that simply asks: ‘Statehood: Yes or No?’ This would allow for all opponents of statehood – whether they support independence, continued Commonwealth status, Free Association, or even ‘none of the above’ – to vote ‘No,’ thus defeating the exclusion argument that some have advanced in the past. Furthermore, the results of such a plebiscite would constitute an indisputable expression of the will of the people of Puerto Rico, with their decision being made by those who vote.”
Read the full letter here.
Committee representatives also sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist the government of Puerto Rico in certifying a plebiscite that will allow for the resolution of Puerto Rico’s status.
“To date, Puerto Ricans have voted on the question of status on five occasions. On the last two plebiscites – in 2012 and 2017 – those, who voted, overwhelmingly chose statehood with 61% and 97% of the vote respectively. However, all these votes were locally sponsored and not federally-sanctioned, nor were they strict yes-or-no votes on statehood for Puerto Rico. If the duly-constituted government of the territory, established and exercising its delegated local powers under federal law (Pub. L. 82-447), determines to conduct a yes-or-no vote on statehood under Pub. L. 113-76, the legal standard prescribed by Congress for federal recognition of such an act of self-determination is clear. It is the Attorney General’s duty and responsibility to certify that the definition of any option to resolve the status of Puerto Rico on the ballot and related education materials are ‘not incompatible with the Constitution and laws and policies of the United States.’ The statehood option, which Puerto Ricans have already supported twice, unequivocally meets both criteria, as it would resolve the status of Puerto Rico in a way that is compatible with the Constitution, laws and policies of the United States.”
Read the full letter here.
Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
Within minutes of the deadly Camp Fire's ignition, several acres were ablaze as fire spotters stood by helplessly. While Capt. Matt McKenzie of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection responded quickly, firetrucks were unable to reach the blaze and helicopters and air tankers were grounded due to the timing and weather, according to a report. Within two hours, the fire tore through the towns of Concow and Paradise before it raged on, claiming thousands of structures and dozens of lives.
President Donald Trump and I both saw the devastation of the fire on our recent trips to California: piles of rubble recognizable as houses only by their chimneys and charred appliances, and vehicles melted to the pavement in pools of molten aluminum. We also saw the heroism of firefighters, first responders and volunteers working together to battle the blaze and help the community.
California is a tinderbox. The ongoing drought, warm temperatures, insect infestations, poor forest management, continued residential and commercial expansion in the wildland-urban interface and other factors have made the western United States more prone to fire. The strong winds in California can rapidly turn a routine brush fire into a deadly blowtorch and send a storm of embers ahead of the flames.
Forests are filled with fuel from the floor, where highly combustible, dry pine needles act as kindling to jump-start the tiniest spot fire, all the way up to the crown where beetle-killed and parched trees dot the landscape. In between the floor and the crown, there are years' worth of logs, overgrown shrubs, and standing dead trees. This fuel accumulation can turn naturally occurring ground fires into deadly crown fires that quickly spread out of control.
To make matters worse, large swaths of our most fire-prone forests are inaccessible via firetruck, as was documented in the Camp Fire. This is just one of many obstacles that make it extremely difficult to stamp out fires before they reach a catastrophic size or intensity.
President Trump already approved a major disaster declaration for California, which makes emergency funding and other resources available. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and I have sent hundreds of firefighters and other assets to the state, and we secured a fix to the way firefighting is funded earlier this year. While communities get assistance and firefighters continue to battle the fire, there's more legislation in Congress that can be passed to help prevent these disasters in the future.
Right now Congress is working on the final version of the Farm Bill, which includes forest management provisions in addition to changes to Department of Agriculture programs. The House version of the bill would allow land managers to remove dead trees and dense brush from federal land that insect infestations and ongoing drought conditions have turned into matchsticks. One proposal would allow for the expedited approval of salvage logging projects to remove charred and dead logs after a fire.
There's a lot of misinformation out there about what forest management means and what it doesn't. Part of forest management includes reducing the fuel load by scientifically determining which trees need to be removed in order to improve forest health and resiliency. Active management doesn't necessarily mean clear-cutting or large-scale logging, as some environmentalists would have you believe. It also includes prescribed burns in the colder seasons and clearing power line corridors of hazardous trees and excessive brush so if a wire or tree does fall it's less likely to ignite.
There are three benefits to active management.
First, it is better for the environment to manage the forests. As San Franciscans who live more than 160 miles away from the Camp Fire know, the resulting smoke and emissions negatively affect air quality. Catastrophic fires also damage watersheds, scorch and sterilize land, and increase the likelihood of floods and mudslides in the rainy season after fires.
Second, active management is also good for the economy. Logs typically come out of the forest in one of two ways: they are either harvested as timber to sustainably improve the health and resiliency of the forest (while creating jobs), or they are burned to the ground. Jobs matter, and the timber industry has long been a cornerstone of rural economies. Fortunately, these economic benefits go hand in hand with our goal of healthy forests.
Third, and most importantly, the active management of our forests can save lives. The Camp Fire has killed at least 83 people, and hundreds more are still missing.
I've visited too many fire camps, grieved with too many victims and spoken with too many experts to know that our communities and loved ones deserve to be better protected. We owe it to the firefighters and neighbors we have lost to work harder to improve the health of our forests.
Every year we watch our forests burn, and every year there is a call for action. Yet, nothing gets done. Now Congress has the opportunity to pass good policy that saves forests and lives by including House-passed proposals for forest management in the Farm Bill.### Read More
Today, the House passed H.R. 6784, the Manage Our Wolves Act. Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement:
“Scientific evidence conducted by Fish and Wildlife under multiple administrations from both sides of the aisle shows the wolf has recovered and thrived. It’s time to delist. Communities and species will continue to lose when special interest litigants and activist judges dictate Endangered Species Act policy. That’s the status quo, and today the House voted to move ESA policy in a better direction.”
The bill had bipartisan support from representatives, including:
“The recovery of the gray wolf is a success story for the Endangered Species Act, and the best available science must determine whether species remain listed. States are best-equipped to effectively manage gray wolves and respond to the needs of the ecosystem and local communities. I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation to return management of the gray wolf species to the states, as requested by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and as proposed by the Obama administration, has been approved by the House. I urge prompt consideration in the Senate.” – U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.)
“If you live in Wisconsin, especially northern Wisconsin, it might be necessary for us to actually manage this population because it's good for the environment. It’s good for the wolves. It's good for the cattle. It's actually really good for our deer population. And so I just think this just makes common sense. Frankly, I believe that our states are far more in tuned in understanding the ecosystem of their state than Bureaucrats in Washington.” – U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.)
“I have to say in my 28 years in this body I have never seen so much nonsense, misinformation, and propaganda put out on a bill as being put out on this one. We followed the Endangered Species Act. We did what was said, the scientists said we recovered and they delisted the wolves. These were scientists that did it, it wasn’t any politician. You had a group out there, these extreme environmentalists and others who have captured our party, went to a judge in Washington D.C. that has no idea what’s going on at all and convinced that judge that the wolves had not recovered because they had not been reestablished all the way to Des Moines, Iowa.” – U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)
The House also passed 10 additional Committee bills this week:
H.R. 2615 (U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.), H.R. 4033 (U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.), H.R. 5636 (U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.), H.R. 5787 (U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla.), H.R. 6146 (U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.), H.R. 6666 (U.S. Rep. Daniel Donovan, R-N.Y.), S. 440 (U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.), S. 2074 (U.S. Sen John Hoeven, R-N.D.), H.R. 5706 (U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii) and H.R. 6064 (U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y.).
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