On Wednesday, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act by a vote of 309-118. The legislation includes Congressman Mike Simpson and Congressman Raul Labrador’s Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area Boundary Modification Act, which addresses the routing of the Gateway West Transmission Line, through the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA). Idaho Senator Jim Risch, who sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, played a key role in gathering support for the proposal in the Senate which led to its inclusion in a final package. The Gateway West legislation is also supported by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo.
The compromise agreement allows the transmission line to be routed using the preferred alternative of the Bureau of Land Management’s Resource Advisory Council (RAC) and is supported by the State of Idaho and Idaho Power. The agreement also includes land in the NCA being removed from NCA status and managed as BLM multiple use land. In exchange, the Birds of Prey NCA will receive enhanced mitigation and conservation measures and an additional 4,800 acres will be added to the NCA. These balanced conservation provisions were agreed to by key stakeholders.
“I am very grateful to Chairman Calvert and Chairman Murkowski for allowing our agreement into the legislation,” said Congressman Simpson. “Without consensus from pragmatic organizations like Conservation Lands Foundation and Idaho Power, this would simply not be possible. I am pleased this bill is moving forward and I am thrilled with the savings for Idaho ratepayers and benefits to an important conservation area in Idaho.”
“While I opposed many things about the Omnibus bill, I am grateful to Congressman Simpson for his leadership in making sure our bill was included in the final package,” said Congressman Labrador. The Gateway West project will have a significant, positive impact on Idaho and I will continue working with Congressman Simpson and our Senators to see this project to the finish line.”
“We are delighted to see the House pass the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area Boundary Modification Act,” stated Danielle Murray, Senior Director of Programs for the National Conservation Lands. “This legislation expands protections for the unique raptor and eagle habitat in southern Idaho, while also allowing for the development of much needed energy infrastructure.”
“I'm grateful to Congressman Simpson, our delegation and key stakeholders for helping advance a critical economic development priority for Idaho,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “The Gateway West transmission line has been held up by federal bureaucracy for far too long, so I'm pleased to see legislation on this important infrastructure project finally moving forward.”