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Interior Funding Bill Passes House

Simpson champions important western provisions in Interior Appropriations bill

Washington, July 15, 2016

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017 which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 231-196. Included in the legislation are policies important to western states such as full 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.”

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

• Language that prevents a future listing of the sage-grouse as an endangered species 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;
• Full funding for wildfire suppression at the ten-year average of $3.9 billion for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service;
• A $78.5 million funding increase for the National Park Service targeted at park operations and maintenance to help reduce the maintenance backlog and will address other priorities related to the Park Service’s centennial anniversary;
• More than $400 million in cuts to the EPA below the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2017. EPA funding has been reduced by $2.4 billion, or roughly 23 percent, since Republicans regained control of the House in 2010;
• Language that prohibits the EPA from implementing new greenhouse gas regulations for new and existing power plants, and the elimination of funding for greenhouse gas “New Source Performance Standards;
• 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 that prohibits a ban on recreational shooting and hunting on federal and public lands;
• Language that prohibits the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from implementing their proposed “Planning 2.0” regulation until the agency provides additional time for public comment;
• Language that encourages the BLM to work with the State of Idaho on future aquifer recharge projects.

“When you look at the critical funding and key provisions in this bill, you immediately recognize why this legislation is so important to Idaho,” said Congressman Simpson. “Whether it is blocking the EPA’s overreaching rule that seeks to drastically expand their jurisdiction over state waters or providing the Forest Service with the resources it needs to fight wildfires in Idaho and across the west, I am so pleased that Members of Congress advanced the Interior Appropriations bill.” 

The House Interior Appropriations bill is the fifth appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives for fiscal year 2017.