Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for FY17 during the House Appropriations Committee consideration. Included in the legislation are policies important to western states and critical funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), a vital program in the west that ensures communities are adequately compensated for the lack of tax revenue due to the presence of federal land.
“Every county in Idaho depends on the federal government meeting its obligations through Payments in Lieu of Taxes,” said Simpson. “PILT is essentially the government’s property tax on the federal land it owns, and it needs to be paid fully and on time. I’m pleased that full funding was included in this bill, and I am also committed to fulfilling the promises made to public lands counties in the long-term and will continue working to provide permanent certainty for Idaho’s counties.”
Simpson, who is vice-chair of the subcommittee, also supported language that would prevent a future listing of the sage-grouse while prohibiting any changes to resource management plans that are inconsistent with state management plans. The language also prohibits the withdrawal of mineral rights in sage-grouse focal areas.
“The decision not to list the sage-grouse as an endangered species last September was a victory for western states,” said Simpson. “However, I remain concerned about the impacts of the BLM’s resource management plans and the consequences they will have on Idaho. This language ensures that state voices are a part of sage-grouse management and conservation efforts.”
The Interior bill also includes a number of provisions championed by Simpson that benefit Idaho, including:
- Full funding for wildfire suppression at the ten-year average of $3.9 billion for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service;
- Language preventing the EPA from dramatically expanding its jurisdiction over state and local water under the Clean Water Act by changing the definition of “navigable waters”;
- Language that directs the Fish and Wildlife Service to reissue two final rules removing recovered wolves in Wyoming and in the Western Great Lakes from the endangered species list;
- Language prohibiting the EPA from moving forward with economically harmful proposals to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources;
- Language that prohibits a ban on recreational shooting and hunting on federal and public lands.
Congressman Simpson also offered an amendment that prohibits the Bureau of Land Management from implementing their proposed “Planning 2.0” regulation until the agency provides additional time for public comment. The amendment was agreed to by a voice vote. You can view Congressman Simpson speaking on the amendment here.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 31-18, now heads to the floor for further consideration.