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Simpson Champions Idaho Priorities in House Interior Appropriations Bill

House subcommittee mark includes PILT and wildfire funding, limits EPA regulations

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Washington, July 9, 2014 | comments

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for FY15 during subcommittee consideration.  The bill takes significant steps to protect western interests and reflects Simpson’s influence as a member of the subcommittee.  Among Simpson’s priorities included in the bill is full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, 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 in full and on time.  I’m pleased that full funding was included in the Interior bill for FY15.  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.”

The bill also fully funds wildfire suppression at the 10-year average, an increase of $149 million over last year’s levels.  During the subcommittee markup, Simpson continued to advocate for fixing the flaws in the process of budgeting for wildfire suppression.  Simpson’s separate legislation to end the destructive practice of fire borrowing by treating catastrophic wildfires like similar natural disasters has over 100 cosponsors, including every member of the subcommittee.  “We’ve got to [pass this bill] if we want to reduce the costs of wildfires in the future,” he said during the markup.  “It doesn’t make sense to continue robbing from programs that remove hazardous fuels in order to pay for wildfire suppression.  Hopefully we will be able to get this through Congress this year.”

The Interior bill also includes a number of provisions championed by Simpson that benefit Idaho, including:

-Language preventing the EPA from dramatically expanding its jurisdiction over state and local water under the Clean Water Act;

-Permanent extension of language that allows agencies to renew grazing permits while environmental work is completed;

-Language delaying the court-imposed deadline for determining whether to list sage-grouse as an endangered species for one year to enable states and federal agencies to complete work on sage-grouse management plans.

-Language prohibiting the EPA from moving forward with economically harmful proposals to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.

The bill, which was voice voted out of subcommittee, now moves to full committee consideration.

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