Four Governors: Federal Overreach Causing Major Problems in the West
September 30, 2015 -
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing with four Western governors on “Respecting State Authority in Regards to Resource Management and Energy Development.” Governors Matt Mead (R-WY), Steve Bullock (D-MT), Dennis Daugaard (R-SD), and Gary Herbert (R-UT) all expressed major concerns about a swath of federal policies that disenfranchise the states from managing land, water, and energy resources.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) mentioned that several titles in H.R. 2898, the House-passed West-wide drought legislation, eases the permitting process for storage projects. Gov. Mead agreed on the importance of increasing water storage in the West and agreed that a one-stop shop approval process with the Bureau of Reclamation would be a good solution. “In Wyoming, we’re trying a 10 and 10 plan: build 10 reservoir projects in 10 years. The problem is the expanse and the time and to the extent that the federal government can act in a cooperative fashion with the states and speed up that permitting time to get things done...If we can get that done and get a fast track, that would be a tremendous boon for the West.”
In an exchange with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Gov. Bullock affirmed that categorical exclusions would be helpful tools for managing forests and timber salvage projects to prevent wildfires, similar to what was included in the Farm Bill. He said that the categorical exclusions (CE) in the Farm Bill was a “game changer” because it “provides the opportunity for both collaboratives to work together and governors to actually designate lands to get projects moving.” The House recently passed H.R. 2647, the Federal Forest Resilience Act, which would give the Forest Service the tools it needs to thin overgrown forests and reforest after wildfires through expanded CEs.
Waters of the United States
Rep. Darin Lahood (R-IL) asked the Governors about the impact of the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule on their states. All four governors discussed how the WOTUS rule has adverse impacts for their states’ economies and bullies its way into the state jurisdiction of water. Gov. Herbert explained it will “create a whole different set of problems and federal overreach into what has historically been a state domain. The control and management of water has always been a state issue, not a federal one.”
Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) asked the governors whether they would consider lifting the crude oil export ban, an action that, according to the Energy Information Administration, would increase oil development on federal land. Governors Mead, Herbert, and Daugaard agreed that the ban should be lifted. Gov. Herbert responded, “I think it is better for America, it is better for the states, it is better for the economy. We ought to let the market place work and export your products where there is a consumer.”
Endangered Species Act
Citing the abysmal failure rate (3%) of species coming off of the Endangered Species Act list, Gov. Mead said, "ESA is not working. States should be consulted before listing and the data from the states should be used. It's hurtful to species because we're wasting time on species that have long since proved they've recovered instead of working on species that actually need help."
In a question asked by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) Governors Herbert and Mead both agreed that the Bureau of Land Management never alleged that state regulation of hydraulic fracturing on federal land was insufficient.
Gov. Mead said, “We have shown leadership and other states have shown leadership…one way you can get more money [for energy] is to… let the states regulate where they have proven to do so well.”
Please click here for more information regarding the hearing.
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