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Simpson Influence Clear In House Interior Funding Bill

Idaho Congressman secures wildfire funding reforms, sage-grouse money, and conservation funds in first Interior Bill as Ranking Member

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Washington, October 28, 2009 | comments
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has secured funding to help Idaho communities meet Clean Water Act standards and for efforts to recover sage-grouse as part of the final Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.
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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has secured funding to help Idaho communities meet Clean Water Act standards and for efforts to recover sage-grouse as part of the final Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.  Simpson is the Ranking Republican member on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the Department of Interior, the Forest Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and helped lead a conference committee meeting that worked out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill late last night.

“In my opinion, one of the most important provisions contained in this bill is the reform of the way we fund wildfires every year,” said Simpson. “The inclusion of a wildfire suppression reserve fund in this bill was one of my highest priorities for this fiscal year. This legislation will give our nation’s fire fighters and land management agencies the predictability and stability they need to fight wildfires without doing irreparable harm to other important aspects of their budgets.”

Among the provisions which were included in the final bill at Simpson’s urging were the following:

  • The provisions of legislation known as the FLAME Act.  The bill creates a FLAME Wildfire Suppression Reserve Funds for the Forest Service and the Department of Interior to ensure a dedicated, steady, and predictable funding stream for wildfire suppression activities.  The reforms are intended to reverse years of inefficient wildfire funding practices in which agencies have to take funds from other critical needs in order to meet increasing wildfire demands.
  • The highest level of funding ever for hazardous fuels reduction, a total of $556 million -- an increase of $25 million over last year. With the inclusion of the FLAME Fund in the bill, this funding will be used specifically for fuels reduction instead of being funneled into suppression as in previous years.
  • Language to prohibit funds from being used to implement EPA rules requiring mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock manure.  This language will protect farmers and ranchers from burdensome, unnecessary regulations at a time when the agriculture industry is struggling.
  • $1 million for a new Wolf Livestock Predation Program, which provides states like Idaho with funding to reimburse ranchers for livestock depredation caused by the state’s wolf population.
  • $1 million for the State of Idaho’s Sage-Grouse Management Plan and efforts to conserve sage-grouse across the State of Idaho and prevent a listing of the species under the Endangered Species Act.
  • $750,000 for the City of Buhl Wastewater Systems Improvement.  The EPA and Idaho DEQ have mandated that the city build a new wastewater treatment center, and the funding would enable the city to meet Clean Water Act requirements, improving water quality for the citizens of Buhl

“I am also pleased that the bill contains important funding for Idaho livestock producers to help the State of Idaho conserve sage-grouse and a new program to reimburse ranchers for livestock losses due to wolf depredation,” said Simpson. “Finally, I strongly support the inclusion in the bill of funding to assist the City of Buhl with the construction of its wastewater system improvements. Cities like Buhl are struggling to meet federal water standards, and I believe the federal government has a responsibility to assist small communities.”

The bill also includes funding for the following Idaho projects:

  • $1,200,000 for trail construction and maintenance in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area;
  • $400,000 to acquire property for a bike trail in the SNRA;
  • $300,000 for the City of American Falls Wastewater System Improvements
  • $150,000 for state stabilization of the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.
  • Reprogramming of existing funding in the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the Upper Snake/South Fork of the Snake River ACEC.

The House is expected to consider the conference report later this week.  It will then go back to the Senate where it will be voted on without additional amendment before being sent to President Obama for his signature.

To view Congressman Simpson's floor debate on his Motion to Instruct click here.

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