November 14, 2018

Bishop Sends Letter to Secretary Zinke Over Department Misconduct Policies

From the House Committee on Natural Resources”

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 4, 2018 –

Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, requesting documents and information regarding the Department’s workplace misconduct policies and improvements that have taken place.

“The Committee is conducting ongoing oversight of employee misconduct issues at the U.S. Department of the Interior (Department).  The Department employs approximately 70,000 people in 2,400 operating locations [and] those entrusted to execute [the Department’s] responsibilities should be held to the highest ethical and professional standards…

On February 2, 2017, the Committee wrote to then-Acting Secretary Jack Haugrud to express concerns about the several years of disturbing cases of employee misconduct at the Department

One such case highlighted in the Committee’s February 2, 2017 letter was that of former Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Office of Law Enforcement Supervisory Agent Dan Love.  Mr. Love’s behavior was symptomatic of the Department’s previous culture of mismanagement, which turned a blind eye to his corruption and abuse of authority.  While the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation of Mr. Love in October 2015, it was [not until September 2017] that his employment was finally terminated.”

Click here to read the full letter.

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Committee Passes Sportsmen’s Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 13, 2017 –

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3668, the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2017” or “SHARE Act.” This bipartisan bill expands opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting; increases safety and hearing protection for sportsmen and women; and protects Second Amendment rights. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:   

“The SHARE Act removes bureaucratic roadblocks that inhibit Americans’ access to outdoor sporting activities on federal lands and reigns in federal encroachment on Second Amendment rights. Members also adopted important amendments that improve upon this package, including provisions to address cumbersome permitting processes for guides and outfitters, which will result in more jobs and more Americans recreating outdoors. I look forward to advancing this package through the House and working with our Senate colleagues on a final bill that can be signed into law.”  

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LePage Testimony: Monument Designation “Blatant(ly) Disregard” For Opposition

*Editor’s Note* – Below is a press release from the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources involving testimony toward considerations to amend the process of a president’s executive authority to designate lands as National Monuments. This PR is followed by Maine’s Governor, Paul LePage’s, testimony before the Committee and that of Lucas St. Clair, a representative of Elliotsville Plantation, donors of the land designated by President Obama as a new National Monument – Katahdin Woods and Waters.

Panel Outlines Devastating Social and Economic Consequences of Antiquities Designations
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands heard testimony on the consequences of Executive Branch overreach of the Antiquities Act. The panel discussed national monuments designated without significant local input or support or that included excessively large or restricted areas of land.

Director of the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office and former head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Kathleen Clarke discussed the devastating economic consequences for Utah communities after President Clinton designated 1.7 million acres in Utah as the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in 1996.

Families that have lived for generations in affected communities find their families torn apart due to lack of employment opportunities for the next generation. Populations are declining. In the twenty years since the creation of the Grand Staircase, school enrollment in Escalante has gone from 150 to 57 students,” Clarke said.

The monument included roughly 176,000 acres of Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration (SITLA) lands, which generate revenues for the state’s K-12 public education system. According to the Utah Geological Survey, the value of resources on school trust lands dropped by $8 billion immediately after the monument designation.

President Obama’s December 2016 Bears Ears National Monument designation similarly locked up 109,000 acres of SITLA land in southern Utah. “What impact will this have for SITLA as they try to grow their fund to benefit more schoolchildren in the state,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) asked Clarke.

This will “diminish opportunity,” Clarke responded, adding that it threatens Utah’s entire K-12 public education system.

Knox Marshall, Vice President of the Resources Division at Murphy Company, testified that President Obama’s January 2017 expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southwestern Oregon and California has “devastated the social fabric of our rural communities and crippled county finances.

Douglas County in Oregon, for example, has recently closed its entire public library system because timber sale revenues that previously funded those libraries and a robust set of other public services have largely disappeared,” Marshall added.

Maine Governor Paul LePage outlined current and anticipated adverse impacts resulting from the August 2016 Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument designation by President Obama, including economic losses to the forestry industry and public access barriers such as the loss of connectivity for ATV trails in the region.

Not long after President Obama designated the Monument, Maine residents started to feel the negative effects of having the federal government as their new master,” LePage stated. 

These designations were often imposed in spite of local opposition, without consultation with Congress, or the state or local government’s effected, and without regard for the economic damage these designations have had on surrounding communities,” Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said.

After reading letters and resolutions from local tribes in Utah opposing the Bears Ears designation Chairman Bishop stated, “I hope that those listening today will remember these voices, the ones that have been excluded from this conversation and the ones that President Obama ignored when he designated Bears Ears National Monument.”

Click here to view full witness testimony.

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Committee on Natural Resources: All Agree Need for Transparency in ESA Decisions



Video streaming by Ustream

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held an oversight hearing on “Transparency and Sound Science Gone Extinct?:The Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Closed-Door Settlements on Endangered Species and People.” The hearing examined the need for data transparency as it relates to federal decisions on implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

This hearing was part of a series of hearings this Committee is holding to examine ways to ensure that the ESA is working efficiently and effectively for both people and species.

“Right now, there is a lack of transparency of data and science used in literally hundreds of sweeping listings and habitat designation decisions that affect both species and people. The Obama administration’s ESA-related actions – through executive orders, court settlements with litigious groups, and rules to list species – instead force regulatory actions that shut out Congress, states, local communities, private landowners – even scientists who may dispute the often sketchy or unverifiable data used for these decisions. It’s important to make sure this ESA listing data and how that data is collected is made available to those affected by the potential listings,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).

Witnesses at the hearing testified on the need for transparency in the species listing and critical habitat process specifically relating to the data used to proceed with listings and how settlement deadlines are motivating listings rather than science. All witnesses, including the Obama Administration, agreed on the need to make all data available to the public online.

Rob Roy Ramey II, Ph. D, who is an independent scientist, underscored the need for scientific integrity and transparency in data collection. “The American people pay for data collection and research on threatened and endangered species through grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and administration of research permits. They pay the salaries of agency staff who collect data, author, edit, and publish papers based upon those data. They, for the most part, are willingly regulated based on those data. It is essential that the American people have the right to full access to those data in a timely manner, as it is in the public interest. A requirement that data and methods be provided in sufficient detail to allow third party reproduction would raise the bar on the quality and reproducibility of the science used in ESA decisions and benefit species recovery. Failure to ensure this level of transparency will undermine the effectiveness of the very programs that the data were gathered for in the first place.”

Kent McMullen, Chairman of Washington’s Franklin County Natural Resources Advisory Committee, highlighted his firsthand accounts of the lack of public transparency given to local communities surrounding an ESA listing. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provided no notification to our local government jurisdiction (Franklin County Board of Commissioners) or to the thirteen landowners whose land fell within the proposed critical areas of habitat and moved forward with listing under the ESA. Certainly, this case of attempts to list the White Bluffs Bladderpods shows best available science has been avoided in favor of using consensus biodiversity conservation science to expedite compliance with the mega-settlement. It also points out the shortcomings purposely practiced to avoid notification to those impacted by ESA listings. Our DNA results clearly showed there was a 100% match to all plants and no gene variations whatsoever. Therefore, the White Bluffs Bladderpod is NOT a subspecies.”

Damien M. Schiff, Principal Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, called into question the transparency of how species are listed under the ESA. “Reasonable people can disagree about the utility and morality of the Endangered Species Act, but no one can legitimately approve of a less-than-transparent administration of the Act. Unfortunately, over the last several decades, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have implemented the Act in a way that puts agency policy ahead of the law and the best interests of the regulated public. Moreover, the agencies’ administration of the Act oftentimes bears no relationship to the best interests of protected species, but serves only to aggrandize government power or satisfy particularly litigious environmental groups. The last five years have simply exacerbated these odious practices.”

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