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Simpson Stands Up for Critical Idaho Provisions

House Appropriations Committee advances Interior funding bill

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported passage of the fiscal year 2018 House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which contains many important provisions to Idaho. Congressman Simpson has continually advocated for essential funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and wildfire suppression and prevention, which are included in this year’s bill.

“The Interior Appropriations bill is arguably the most important piece of legislation for the western United States,” said Congressman Simpson.  “I am pleased this bill addresses the federal government’s responsibility to public lands counties by funding PILT. This is how many counties pay for essential services such as roads and schools. Until we find a much needed long term solution to PILT, I will continue to ensure these payments are fully funded and arrive on time.”

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

  • Full funding for wildfire suppression at the ten-year average of $3.4 billion for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service;

  • Increased funding for hazardous fuels management which is vital to preventing catastrophic wildfires;

  • Language that authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of the Army to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule;

  • Language which prevents listing of sage grouse as an endangered species;

  • 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 making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court;

  • Funding for the Rural Water Technical Assistance program to help small communities provide safe and affordable drinking water;

  • Language that prohibits a ban on issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety;

  • Language that directs the Bureau of Land Management to work with the State of Idaho regarding aquifer recharge;

  • Language that expresses concern with the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service court decision and encourages the Administration to work with Congress to find a solution. Congressman Simpson introduced legislation to reverse the court decision which has threatened 80 vegetative management projects and hundreds of millions of board feet.  

“Whether it is authorizing the EPA to roll back disastrous rules from the former Administration or adequately funding programs to combat wildfires, this bill addresses issues that impacts Idahoans on a daily basis. I look forward to advancing the bill on the House floor.”

The legislation was adopted by the committee last night by a vote of 30-21.