Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior issued the final rule to create a Native Hawaiian government. The rule, which is highly disputed and raises difficult constitutional issues, includes new administrative procedures and criteria for establishing such relationships. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released the following statement:
“What the President wants, the President gets. This rule is unconstitutional and the Executive Branch is making up the rules as they go. It’s another example of this administration exerting power they were never given in the first place. Congress needs to put an end to this executive abuse by establishing a consistent and transparent framework for the recognition of Native groups.”Read More
Today, the U.S. Departments of the Army, the Interior and Justice invited tribal leaders to participate in government-to-government consultations on infrastructure permitting. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released the following statement:
"This administration has never cared about consulting local communities or Native tribes. Over the past eight years, tribes and Alaska Natives have documented the lack of consultation in the proposed hydraulic fracturing rule and the new offshore air rule respectively. Tribal consultation is always good enough when a project is denied, but never good enough when a project is approved. Meaningful consultation becomes meaningless when it’s selectively applied to advance a political agenda in the White House as they’ve once again pursued here.”Read More
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a markup on five bills including H.R. 5780 (Rep. Rob Bishop), the “Utah Public Lands Initiative Act.” This bill designates millions of acres of federal land for conservation and recreation; exchanges and consolidates certain federal and non-federal land; and provides for economic development within the State of Utah. H.R. 5780 passed by a vote of 21-13.
“We have a bill that is truly locally-driven and solves problems. Historic land disputes and scarce revenue for our children’s education will soon be a mark of the past for our state. The bill will provide land-use certainty, proving that conservation and economic development can coexist to build a new future of prosperity for our children. This is a good bill developed by Utahns for Utah,” Chairman Bishop (R-UT) said.
"PLI is a balanced, bipartisan approach to decades-long land use conflicts. This legislation provides a viable, sustainable and long-term alternative to a national monument designation, which would be devastating to the state of Utah,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) stated. “Instead of the arrogance of a unilateral designation by a president who has never visited these areas, this bill enjoys broad local support after a very open and transparent process. We have bent over backwards to accommodate as much input as we possibly can. The final result reflects that spirit of compromise and collaboration."
H.R. 5780 includes a four to one ratio of land designated for conservation and Wilderness to land used for economic development purposes. The bill was developed in an unprecedented transparent and public process, including over 1,200 meetings, 50 field trips and several hearings across Utah.
Click here to view a one-page summary of H.R. 5780.
Click here to view additional information on H.R. 5780.Read More
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a markup on five bills including H.R. 2387 (Rep. Don Young), the "Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act." The bill, which passed by voice vote, provides equitable treatment of Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans under the Native Allotment Act of 1906, allowing veterans to be eligible for land benefits from the federal government.
While serving in the Vietnam War, Alaska Native Veterans were unable to apply for land allotments promised by the federal government. When they returned home, only those who served from 1969–1971 were allowed to apply. H.R. 2387 expands their military service dates to coincide with the entire conflict, which officially lasted from 1964-1975.
“This piece of legislation will bring justice and parity for Alaska Natives who honorably served our nation in the Vietnam War,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) said. “I am pleased to see this important bill advance. I thank Congressman Young for his effort in allowing our servicemen and women an equal opportunity to obtain what is rightfully theirs.”
“It’s absolutely wrong to punish these Alaska Native veterans, who proudly served their country during time of conflict, by denying them their allotment. Congress must once and for all rectify this inequity and fulfill its promise to these Native veterans. I look forward to the day that this matter is closed,” Subcommittee Chairman Young (R-AK) said.
Rep. Young’s bill also increases available land for selection by Alaska Native Veterans and reduces restrictions related to allotment and occupancy requirements while serving overseas.
Click here to learn more about H.R. 2387.Click here to view letters of support for H.R. 2387. Read More
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a markup on 5 bills including H.R. 564 the “Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act” (Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler), which passed committee. H.R. 564 authorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue one-year permits to Washington, Oregon, Idaho
, and several tribal groups to lethally take non-endangered sea lions in order to protect endangered and threatened species of salmon.
“This bill empowers local communities to take species recovery into their own hands. We need more bills like this that address the unique issues of each region, not the one-size fits all regulations the Obama administration likes to enforce. I applaud Congresswoman Herrera Beutler for her hard work on this legislation and look forward to seeing it move to the floor,” Chairman Bishop (R-UT) said.
“Salmon are central to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest, but right now sea lion predation is posing a serious threat to our salmon populations,” Congresswoman Herrera Beutler (R-WA) said. “Significant resources are invested to ensure their survival, but we’re being poor stewards of these resources if we don’t also manage the threat of an exploding sea lion population. I want to thank the Chairman Bishop of the Natural Resources Committee for their strong support of my ‘Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act’ that provides the tools to manage the sea lion threat on the Columbia River system. With this solution, we can better protect the salmon so vital to our recreational, cultural and economic interests.”
“By giving temporary management authority to Pacific Northwest states and tribes to address California sea lion predation of salmon, this legislation balances the needs of wildlife in the Columbia River and its tributaries,” Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) said. “I thank my colleagues, Chairman Bishop and Congresswoman Herrera Beutler, for their work on this important legislation.”
Click here to view letters of support for H.R. 564.Click here to learn more about H.R. 564. Read More
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing on the impacts of the Obama Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) controversial Final Guidance for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“This Guidance is a litigation blueprint for radical special interest groups. The White House staff spent years behind closed doors creatively reimagining the most controversial aspects of the draft guidance with new adjectives and footnotes. The Final Guidance does nothing to address the extensive concerns with this illogical and dangerous policy. They keep saying this isn’t legally enforceable, but de facto enforcement through the courts has already begun,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) stated.
“This guidance, rather than help the environment, ends up hurting the everyday lives of Americans. It drives up the costs related to the permitting process endangering millions of jobs across the country. Everything from energy projects to highway maintenance to small business construction will be impacted,” Bishop continued.
CEQ issued the Final Guidance on August 2, 2016. On August 25, 2016, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility, citing the Final Guidance, filed suit in U.S. District Court charging that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not comply with NEPA.
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) was designed as a regulatory compliance framework for projects requiring a federal permit, but what was once a process for disclosure has become a process for preemptive decision making and endless litigation.
Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) pressed CEQ's Managing Director Christy Goldfuss on how the Guidance could block or delay projects, including critical forest management activities that mitigate catastrophic wildfires and reduce related emissions.
“What about the 100 million tons of carbon that went up in forest fires last year because we failed to manage our forests. Does that contribute to climate change?” Westerman asked.
The Guidance applies to all federal actions, including land and resource management activities such as forestry, transportation, energy and a host of other economic activities, all of which are now exposed to additional frivolous litigation.
“It’s not your responsibility, it’s not your authority, but you did it anyway. Once the courts use the ambiguous Guidance as a rationale it becomes de facto enforcement,” Bishop said to Goldfuss during the hearing.
This is the fourth Full Committee oversight hearing during the 114th Congress on the Obama Administration’s abuse, selective application and outright circumvention of NEPA. At the beginning of this Congress, Chairman Bishop elevated NEPA to the Full Committee.Click here to read full witness testimony. Read More
Today, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing on the status of the federal government’s inconsistent and unsuccessful wolf management efforts in the United States. The panel, which included local and state witnesses, focused on red wolves in the Southeast, gray wolves in the Northwest and Western Great Lakes and Mexican wolves in the Southwest.
“For decades, ineffective and sometimes destructive federal management of wolves has negatively impacted communities, economies, livestock, family businesses, recreationists and even family pets in vast swaths of our nation […]. Just last week the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] announced that the 30 year red wolf recovery program in North Carolina is, for all intents and purposes, a failure,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said.
Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Alexandra Sandoval spoke about the failure of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to cooperate with the State of New Mexico in its Mexican wolf recovery efforts.
“Had the Service been more cooperative years ago […] we would likely be at a different place today than where we are – a court ordered injunction preventing [FWS] from releasing wolves in New Mexico in violation of state and federal law,” Sandoval stated.
It took over ten years and an act of Congress to delist gray wolves in Idaho and Montana despite the universally-acknowledged species recovery, according to Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Virgil Moore.
“If species do not come off the endangered species list when science-based recovery criteria are achieved, states and local communities have no incentive to be active participants in recovery efforts,” Moore stated.
Executive Director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Gordon Myers discussed the unsustainability of the red wolf recovery program, including the existential threat of hybridization, for which FWS has no solution. He also emphasized the inability of FWS to keep introduced wolves from encroaching on private property.
States have demonstrated that they are by far the best situated and equipped to manage wildlife and uphold the doctrine of multiple use on public lands within their borders. Management responsibility for recovered species must be transferred to states at the earliest possibly juncture. In the meantime, FWS must make every effort to work with states and stakeholders in its recovery efforts, and it must take responsibility for its failures, such as those in the red wolf program.Click here to view full witness testimony. Read More
Today, President Obama designated 4,913 square miles off the coast of New England as a new marine monument. This monument is expected to cause massive damage to the local seafood industry. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:
“This is another example of the President making a big decision without talking to people first. The mayor asked for input; the community asked for input; the seafood industry asked for input and even created a compromise proposal of their own, but it wasn’t even considered by the President. It’s an abuse of the Antiquities Act and it risks destroying the entire local seafood industry. This proves once again that he is more interested in leaving his legacy with radical environmental groups than creating American jobs. President Obama will certainly leave his legacy—on the backs of fishermen and our entire domestic seafood supply.”
The New England marine monument designation comes shortly after the 442,781 square mile expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Monument off the coast of Hawaii.
The Committee held two oversight hearings on marine national monument designations, including one in Riverhead, NY. On October 7th, 2015. Committee members also sent a letter to the administration requesting further information on the President’s plans for marine designations given the lack of transparency and public input in this process.
Click here to read Chairman Bishop’s op-ed in The Hill titled, “Obama Will Leave His Legacy at the Expense of Fishermen.”Read More
OP-ED: Obama will Leave His Legacy at the Expense of Fishermen
Chairman Rob Bishop
When President Obama quadrupled the size of a marine national monument off the coast of Hawaii last month, he made history. At 583,000-square-miles, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is twice the size of Texas and the largest to date.
But there’s a problem. This sweeping expansion was confirmed with virtually no public input, especially not from those who will feel the economic punch the most: fishermen. According to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, who openly opposed the expansion plans, the designation increased the “no fishing zone” around the Hawaiian Islands from approximately 24 percent to 77 percent.
While radical environmentalists are clapping their hands, an entire local industry risks decimation. It could very well end the tuna and swordfish fisheries in Hawaii which provides nearly 90 percent of U.S. fresh tuna and 60 percent of U.S. fresh swordfish. Both of these fisheries are economic powerhouses, netting more than $110 million in annual revenues according to the Council.
We’ve seen the number of monument designations such as these, on land and sea, rise significantly in the President’s last year in office. He’s building a legacy on unilateral monument expansions under the guise of preservation. Unfortunately, the only thing he will be remembered for is circumventing public input and harming local economies.
Two more marine monuments are expected soon, one on the West Coast, off the coast of Monterey, and another on the East Coast, off the coast of Cape Cod. Much like the expansion in Hawaii, these considerations have been met with staunch opposition from locals, the industry, and elected officials.
The mayors of New Bedford, Massachusetts and Monterey, California recently spoke out against proposals. Their opposition centered around the lack of transparency and public involvement in Antiquities Act designations, as well as the significant economic damage that would be sure to follow if these historic fishing areas are deemed off limits to fishermen.
When I visited New Bedford, Massachusetts, the highest-grossing commercial fishing port in the U.S., earlier this summer, we held a roundtable with local industry leaders whose concerns have been tossed aside by the Obama Administration. They tried to work on a compromise to protect essential habitat while also protecting one of our Nation’s oldest fishing ports, but their efforts have been ignored.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans put a premium on seafood consumption, advising seafood consumption twice weekly. Yet at the same time, this Administration is pushing for these two marine monuments, which will make it more difficult for Americans to purchase affordable, domestic seafood. They will decimate U.S. seafood production and jobs, which will in turn create dependency on foreign food sources—forget buying local.
The hypocrisy goes further. Last year, commercial fishing vessels operating primarily in the South China Sea sparked public outcry for supporting illegal fishing practices. These horror stories on the high seas prompted the Obama Administration to issue an Executive Order creating a seafood traceability program. While the intent of this program was good, it put an undue burden on domestic importers, retailers and restaurants to combat ill practices of other nations that are entirely out of their control.
Our domestic fishing fleets are widely recognized as some of the most sustainable and responsible in the world. Yet instead of combatting illegal practices by foreign fleets, this Administration is teaming up with environmental groups on a crusade to kill American jobs by locking up traditional fishing grounds from the Atlantic to the West Pacific.
We should be supporting and strengthening the work done by our fishermen and regional fishery management councils, not punishing them. Unilateral monument designations override the current public process of established fisheries management and could be catastrophic to the 1.8 million plus jobs that fishing creates. The United States fishing fleets are world leaders in conservation and sustainable harvest, but as it stands, the President’s legacy will only help our foreign competitors, end sustainable domestic industries and make us more reliant on foreign seafood.Click HERE to view the article in The Hill. Read More
Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on H.R. 5780 (Chairman Rob Bishop, R-UT), Utah Public Lands Initiative Act, which designates and exchanges certain federal and non-federal land in the state of Utah for conservation, economic development, and recreational purposes. The bill, a historic and locally-driven effort that included 1200 meetings to draw input from all sides, will create land-use certainty for local communities and land users.
During his opening statement, Chairman Bishop outlined four major accomplishments of the bill. H.R. 5780 will:
1. “Guarantee recreation opportunities for Utahns that will be there permanently…”
2. “Provide areas that the primary purpose will be for economic development so the business community knows where they can and cannot invest…”
3. “Provide permanent conservation—done by Congress not by fiat…”
4. “Give areas to the state so they can develop destination spots that would improve the value of that land and the value of the economy of the state of Utah…”
Witness Rebecca Benally, Commissioner of the San Juan County Commission, voiced her strong support for the bill. She called Native American support for President Obama unilaterally declaring a national monument at Bears Ears a hoax.
“Trusting the federal government, especially agencies within the Dept. of Interior, has not worked out well for the Navajo people. If history is our guide, we would be crazy to do so again and expect a different result. 200 years of broken promises […] tells us all we need to know,” Benally said.
H.R. 5780 permanently protects 1.4 million acres of the Bears Ears region. Unlike a unilateral monument designation, which would minimize tribal input in land-use decisions and restrict cultural and spiritual activities, H.R. 5780 protects the land while guaranteeing protections for tribal management and decision-making.
The federally-controlled lands that will be acquired by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration under H.R. 5780 are expected to yield significant revenue to Utah’s public school system. Director of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, David Ure, called H.R. 5780 the byproduct of a “balancing act” and consensus building.
Ure supports the bill and believes it’s the best path forward for conservation. Everyone agrees that particularly beautiful canyon land in Utah should be preserved, but he asked, “the question is, how do you preserve it? Do you preserve it with a scalpel as we’re doing in [the Utah Public Lands Initiative Act], or do you take an axe or a chainsaw and do it as some are suggesting and do a monument?”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) who has co-led the PLI effort with Bishop, stated the bill is the only bipartisan option.
“There is but one option if you want a bipartisan solution to this and that is the Public Lands Initiative. It would be entirely arrogant and offensive to a lot of people, people who have lived there for generations, to just have a president who has never been there and will never go there, to just unilaterally change the designation on millions of acres,” Chaffetz said.
The Utah Public Lands Initiative Act has something the Obama administration’s proposal to unilaterally designate Bears Ears National Monument does not: strong local support.
"I’m not sure who President Obama thinks he is accountable to, but here in Congress we believe it’s our constituents. Ultimately, it is up to our elected officials, such as Chairman Bishop, Chairman Chaffetz and Commissioner Rebecca Benally, to represent their local residents and be held accountable for their land use choices," Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said.
Click here to view local support for the Utah Public Lands Initiative.
Click here to view full witness testimony.Read More
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