Lummis Bill Deficit-Friendly, Balanced Approach To Federal Land Ownership - 5/21/13
Congressman Lummis introduces FLTFA reauthorization to speed up the sale of surplus federal lands and promote a disposal-first policy.
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) reintroduced the bipartisan H.R. 2068, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) Reauthorization of 2013. FLTFA authorizes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell surplus federal lands to states, localities, or private entities so they can be put to economically-beneficial use. Profits from the sales can then be used to purchase state or private land encumbered by National Parks and other federal areas, advancing conservation goals and improving recreational access. FLTFA could also help finance the acquisition of Wyoming-owned school trust lands like the two that remain in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP).
“For too long, the federal focus has been solely on growing federal land holdings while federal land ripe for disposal sits idle and dilemmas like the Grand Teton land parcels remain outstanding,” said Lummis. “Add to the mix our insurmountable national debt and there is clearly the need for more innovative and taxpayer-friendly solutions to land ownership problems inherent in the west. FLTFA is a land-for-land, disposal-first tool to rationalize land ownership patterns in furtherance of economic development, responsible conservation, and enhancing recreational opportunities—all without spending tax dollars or adding to the surplus of federally-owned property.”
“FLTFA reauthorization will benefit Wyoming and the West because it balances economic and conservation needs. I appreciate Rep. Lummis leading the way on this legislation that will provide public access for places to fish, hunt, hike, and camp, while also protecting key natural resources.” Luke Lynch, Wyoming Director, the Conservation Fund.
“By introducing her bill reauthorizing FLTFA with significant improvements, Representative Lummis is bringing to Washington the common sense approach to land transactions that has long been used by the State of Wyoming to acquire and dispose of state trust lands. The land-for-land approach is a balanced policy that doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars. Private landowners, public land states and American taxpayers will benefit from passage of FLTFA.” Jim Magagna, Executive Vice President, Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
“We applaud Representatives Lummis and others for introducing this critical bill for western lands. FLTFA reauthorization will provide opportunities for public access for hunting, and will conserve natural habitats that will ensure the future of elk and other wildlife.” Blake Henning, Vice President of Lands and Conservation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act:
In July of 2000, Congress enacted the Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act (FLTFA). FLTFA authorizes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public lands identified for disposal through the land use planning process and retain the proceeds from the sales in a special account set up in the Treasury. These funds remain available without additional appropriation, so the program is self-funded and does not rely on taxpayer money.
FLTFA was initially authorized through July 2010, and extended once through July 25, 2011. Since its enactment, the BLM has sold just under 27,000 acres of surplus lands and used the proceeds to acquire approximately 18,000 acres within federal areas identified as having high resource value.
Highlights of H.R. 2068
· Reauthorizes FLTFA, currently expired, through 2020.
· Expands the pool of eligible lands to be sold to include any lands identified for disposal in past or future federal land management plans. Under the 2000 authorization, only land marked for disposal prior to 2000 was eligible for sale.
· Requires the Department of the Interior to establish and make available to the public an online database of all land marked for disposal.
· Directs agencies to give consideration to recreational access, including for hunting and fishing, in implementing the law.
· At the expiration of the reauthorization period, devotes any remaining funds in the FLTFA account to deficit reduction.
History of the Grand Teton National Park land parcels:
The two state-owned parcels are approximately 1,280 acres within Grand Teton National Park, and are valued at $45 million and $46 million, respectively. Unaffiliated with the Park, the parcels are leased to cattle ranchers to generate revenue for schools. Governor Matt Mead and the Wyoming State Legislature have approved the land sale to the Park; however, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) may not receive funding adequate to complete the deal reached between the State of Wyoming and the federal government.
Utah Governor Herbert Emphasizes Success of Western States in Land Management - 5/21/13
WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held an oversight hearing featuring testimony by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association. The hearing highlighted the challenges of western states regarding federal and state land management.
At the hearing, Members and Governor Herbert discussed how states are able to find their own solutions to land management, tailored to their unique circumstances. In contrast, the federal government is bound by a statutory and regulatory framework that keeps them from effective land management. Utah and other states are successfully managing their lands in ways that protect natural resources and promote a healthy economy, and protect public access.
“Governor Herbert illustrated during today’s hearing that states are effectively and efficiently managing the lands and resources located within their borders and can handle this in the future,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01). “As we heard today, the federal government isn’t always the better option and as federal budgets get appropriately tighter, we ought to begin examining redundancies between state and federal land management programs. Frankly, the federal government is so often more of a hindrance than a help. If we want to get serious about responsible development of our resources, better land management practices, and real recovery of wildlife species, we ought to be looking more to the states for solutions and not to federal bureaucrats in Washington. I appreciate Governor Herbert’s insight and it is encouraging to see that states are truly leading the way. It is my hope that Washington will finally wake up and see that states are better suited to deal with many of the issues which Washington has managed poorly over the years.”
“Sadly, we have strayed far from this vision of states as independent and robust policy innovators,” said Gov. Gary Herbert, UT. “No one understands state challenges and demographics better than the people who reside and govern there. No one is more committed to the most effective use of limited resources for the best possible outcome, for both our lands and our citizens, than those who will directly live with the consequences of those decisions.”
Governor Herbert also highlighted how poor federal government management has impacted the health of our national forests and public lands.
“National Parks have an estimated $11 billion maintenance backlog. The U.S. Forest Service has its own multi-billion dollar backlog,” said Gov. Gary Herbert. “Meanwhile, millions of acres of national forests have fallen victim to bark beetles and other insect and disease plights and are at risk to catastrophic wildfire. At the same time, a good portion of our federal grazing lands throughout the West are in poor condition. All of these conditions have resulted in an increase in the number and complexity of wildfires, leading further to exponentially higher suppression costs. Unfortunately, federal land management agencies operate within a statutory and regulatory framework that keeps them from effectively addressing rapid declines in range and forest health. Similarly, federal land management decisions today are paralyzed by litigation. Often, special interest groups use the judicial process to simply delay in an attempt to either wear out or bankrupt the opposition. This leads to further gridlock and the infamous ‘analysis paralysis’.”
Terry Applauds President Obama on Order to Expedite Federal Permitting Process - 5/17/13
Daines: New Fracking Rule Duplicative, Hinders Montana Energy Production - 5/17/13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines today released the following statement in response to the Department of Interior’s newly proposed rule on hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands:
“This rule is just another component in the Obama administration’s ongoing attack on American energy production. This is a duplicative and unnecessary regulation that will exasperate the drilling permit delays in Montana and impose new barriers to responsible energy development in our state, in turn hindering job creation and much needed revenue to support our schools, law enforcement, and infrastructure. Montana already has strong rules for hydraulic fracturing in place. We’ve shown time and time again that states—not the federal government—are best equipped to regulate hydraulic fracturing and address the unique needs that each state has. The Obama administration’s rule is yet another barrier to job creation and serves as nothing more than a ‘one-size-fits-none’ solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Last week, Daines called on Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to step back from the proposed rule, expressing concern that the proposed rule would negatively impact the current and future economic development in Montana. Daines’ letter may be found here.
Tipton: Hearing Underscores Keystone XL Pipeline's Benefits - 5/16/13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, led by Chairman Scott Tipton (R-CO), today held a hearing appraising the benefits that many small businesses would reap from construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Committee heard about the economic benefits that will be available to small businesses from both the construction – and the long-term operation – of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In testimony, witnesses discussed how the pipeline would enhance our nation’s energy security, expand economic and job growth, and lower energy prices for Americans. According to a 2012 study by the NFIB, the “Cost of Natural Gas, Propane, Gasoline, Diesel, Fuel Oil” ranks as the third highest concern among small business owners.
Additionally, the pipeline’s construction would be a boon to many rural communities spanning the western United States along the northern and southern routes from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, bringing in local commercial activity and creating opportunities in fields that include numerous small business contractors. The project would boost the demand for various skilled labor occupations, and create an estimated 42,100 jobs.
“This hearing provided convincing testimony that this vital project is truly a keystone on which we can continue building our national prosperity,” said Chairman Tipton. “At a time when we should be focusing on economic growth and energy security, moving forward with this project is simply common sense. We have a rare opportunity to create thousands of jobs immediately, many through small businesses, and do so in a responsible way.”
Materials for the hearing are posted on the House Small Business Committee’s website HERE.
Brent Booker, Secretary Treasurer, Building and Construction Trades Department, Department, AFL-CIO, Washington, DC, said, “America's Building Trades Unions emphatically support the construction of the Keystone pipeline which will move oil from deposits in Canada to existing refineries in Texas, Oklahoma and the Midwest. Our unions have been actively involved with this project for almost 5 years now, and we are adamant in our belief that the economic, energy security, and national security benefits associated with the construction of this pipeline are too many and too significant to allow it to be derailed by a narrow and misguided political agenda being advanced by a small minority of ill-advised environmental groups… The choice is clear and, again, any further delay by the Obama Administration is unacceptable.”
Peter Bowe, President and CEO, Ellicott Dredges, Baltimore, MD, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers, said, “One way or the other, Canadians will eventually solve their distribution problems, with or without US governmental collaboration. To the extent this process is delayed, the producers will suffer economic loss, and their US suppliers, like Ellicott Dredges, will suffer as well, including diminished employment.”
Mat Brainerd, President, Brainerd Chemical Company, Tulsa, OK, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, said, “My industry would benefit from building the pipeline in three distinct ways. First, like many industries, chemical distribution benefits from economic growth generally. Second, building the pipeline would reduce our costs for aromatic and aliphatic chemicals, diesel and rail tank cars. Third, it would benefit the economics of hydraulic fracturing, which is an important market that many in our industry serve.”
Smith Statement on House Committee Passage of a Farm Bill - 5/16/13
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) made the following statement regarding passage of H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act in the House Committee on Agriculture:
“Passage of a responsible, long-term Farm Bill is among my highest priorities and yesterday’s markup in the Agriculture Committee was a step in the right direction. I look forward to reviewing the details of the bill passed by the committee and allowing the legislative process to work. Given the importance of farm policy to our agriculture economy, it is critical we not only pass a bill, but also to ensure we get the policy right.”
Chairman Hastings: Obama Administration's Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Imposes New Layers of Red-Tape, Duplicates States' Efforts - 5/16/13
Would Hinder American Energy Production, Job Creation
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 16, 2013 - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement on the proposed regulations of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands announced today by the Department of the Interior:
“The Obama Administration is once again choosing costly red tape at the expense of American jobs and American energy production. It is charging forward with new regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands that are burdensome, restrictive, unnecessary, and directly duplicate what states have been doing efficiently and effectively for over sixty years. States are able to carefully craft regulations to meet the specific needs of their states. Yet the Department seems committed to imposing a new ‘one-size-fits-all’ set of rules for hydraulic fracturing. This is nothing more than another roadblock by the Obama Administration in the way of job creation, lower energy prices, and American energy security. At a time when the Interior Department is currently canceling lease sales because they say they do not have the necessary funds, they should not be wasting federal dollars and resources implementing duplicative and unnecessary regulations.
“Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the Administration is only offering a mere 30-day public comment period on this proposed regulation that will have significant job, economic, and energy production impacts throughout the country. The public comment period should be no less than 120 days.”
For over two years, the Natural Resources Committee has conducted aggressive oversight of the Obama Administration’s pursuit of duplicative and potentially costly regulations of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. The Committee has held numerous hearings to learn from stakeholders about the job and economic impacts of federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing – most recently an oversight hearing on May 8, 2013 – and will conduct additional oversight of this proposed rule in June.
Denham: Committee Votes in Favor of Building Keystone XL Pipeline - 5/16/13
Washington, DC – The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today passed legislation on a bipartisan basis to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project long-delayed by the President that will create thousands of American jobs and increase domestic energy security.
“After more than four years of bureaucratic delays, this bill will finally allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, creating thousands of American jobs and displacing overseas imports with millions of barrels of safe and secure oil supplies,” said Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA). “This project has been studied more than any other project of its kind. Last Congress, the House voted six separate times to allow for construction of the pipeline. Today the Committee voted to move forward with more jobs and more energy security for Americans.”
The Keystone project will create 42,100 jobs, according to State Department estimates, and transport approximately 830,000 barrels of oil per day of secure North American oil supplies to U.S. refineries. According to the State Department, “non-OPEC Canadian crude oil supplies advance the energy security of the United States, given Canada’s close proximity, our free trade agreements, and our close bilateral relationship with this stable democracy.”
“This bill represents a significant opportunity to create American jobs and spur economic growth here in the United States,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. “I believe in an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy and this legislation is one piece of the puzzle to break America’s dependence on foreign oil. With an unemployment rate still near 8%, we must do what we can to support the creation of jobs while bolstering our domestic energy independence.”
The application to build Keystone XL was first filed in September 2008, and the State Department completed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in August 2011 with a finding that the pipeline would have limited adverse environmental impacts. Construction was also found to be the preferred option among those studied, including the option to not undertake the project. However, the President has delayed approval of the project, and required the project sponsor to apply for a new route through Nebraska. The Governor of Nebraska approved the reroute earlier this year.
H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, ends the long, drawn-out process of delay by review and finally allows construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Bishop Calls New DOI Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing "Duplicative" - 5/16/13
WASHINGTON— The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) today releasedupdated draft regulations of hydraulic fracturing on public lands. The draft rule will only be open for public comment during the next 30 days. Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee, issued the following statement in response to the new draft regulations:
“The existing regulatory system already works. State-led efforts, as well as the practices of energy producers, have already proven to ensure the safe and responsible development of our nation’s oil and gas resources. Their record illustrates this point. These new rules are duplicative and serve only to hinder energy development. The Department of Interior would be better served directing its efforts toward ensuring that our country is self-sufficient with regards to energy supplies so we can stop importing from unstable foreign countries.”
Lummis: Presidential Power Grabs Continue - 5/16/13
Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy on federal land is heavy on regulation, light on energy production
WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior, Thursday, released its latest draft rules for the regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing on Public Lands. The new regulations at the federal level are added on top of, and may supersede existing state regulations. The new draft rules offer some additional flexibility, and give credit to states like Wyoming with excellent regulations by providing a process for exemption, or “variance,” from federal regulations. However, there is no assurance that Wyoming will be given an exemption, and it puts the federal government in full command of that decision.
“The Administration’s rules are a solution in search of a problem,” Rep. Lummis said. “On the very same day they release this rule claiming its necessity, a Department of the Interior representative could not name, when asked under oath, a single state that was doing a poor job of regulating hydraulic fracturing. In fact, the opposite is true, states are doing an exemplary job. The Administration comes right out and says that Wyoming is doing excellent work, and I appreciate them finally recognizing that truth. But then they turn around and require the State to defend its regulations again on perhaps a well by well basis. How is that efficient? How is that even logical? The draft rule appears to be yet another attempt by the federal government to unnecessarily expand its reach.”