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Simpson Includes Important Idaho Provisions in Committee Passed Bill

Watch the Congressman discuss Sage Grouse and Science Transparency at the EPA during the House Interior Appropriations Markup

Simpson Includes Important Idaho Provisions in Committee Passed Bill

Watch the Congressman discuss Sage Grouse and Science Transparency at the EPA during the House Interior Appropriations Markup

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2019 Interior and Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill by a vote of 25-20. Included in the bill are critical provisions for Idaho that provide relief from burdensome regulations, funding to prevent and suppress wildfires, and payments that help counties with large percentages of federal lands. This legislation continues many important provisions from the 2018 Omnibus and expands many of these efforts which are critical to Idaho’s rural economy.

“The House Appropriations Committee has once again put together a bill that reflects the priorities of Idaho and other western members,” said Simpson. “PILT, wildfire funding, and further relief from the last Administration’s regulations are a major focus of this bill and I look forward to seeing these provisions signed into law later this year.”

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

  • Full funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes, which is $500 million for FY19 and $35 million above the President’s request;
  • Full funding for wildfire suppression at the ten-year average of $3.9 billion for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service. Starting in FY20, the Forest Service will be able to treat wildfires like other natural disasters thanks to Congressman Simpson’s legislation included in the FY2018 Omnibus;
  • $655 million for hazardous fuels management, a $30 million increase from FY18, which is vital to preventing catastrophic wildfires;
  • Language that authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Secretary of the Army to withdraw the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule;
  • Language that directs EPA, USDA, and DOE to establish clear policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass;
  • A decrease in EPA funding by $100 million and it specifically reduces the regulatory programs by $228 million and prioritizes funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan fund, which states and local governments use for water infrastructure projects;

·         Language which prevents listing of sage grouse as an endangered species; Watch Simpson discuss sage grouse issues in Idaho during the markup:

  • Language that directs the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a rule removing recovered wolves in in the contiguous United States from the endangered species list;
  • Funding increase for Recovery Challenge matching grants to share the costs of recovery with corporate and other non-governmental partners such as the Peregrine Fund in Boise;
  • 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;
  • A $175 million increase for the National Park Service to help reduce the deferred maintenance backlog in the Park system. This is one of the largest increases NPS has received to address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog. Congressman Simpson also introduced standalone legislation to address this issue;
  • Language that prohibits a ban on issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety;
  • Funding for Native American communities to help improve infrastructure and health care needs.
  • Language that directs the Bureau of Land Management to work with the State of Idaho regarding aquifer recharge;
  • Language that directs the BLM to work with local stakeholders to address sediment buildup caused by recent years flooding.

Congressman Simpson also spoke against an amendment that would have eliminated the EPA’s ability to make the science used during the rulemaking process publicly available.

“The basis of science is that if you come to a conclusion, you should be able to verify the results,” said Simpson. “Without transparency on the science EPA is using to create some of these rules, we don’t know if they are justifiable in many cases. That is why I appreciate what the Administrator is trying to do by make science publicly available and also providing safeguards for confidential information such as medical records.” 

Watch Simpson discuss science transparency at the EPA during the markup: 

 The bill will now head to the floor of the House of Representatives for further consideration.