Week of 06.22.2018

Trump: 'We Need to Mine in Minnesota Again'
: 'Go on...'

On Wednesday evening, President Trump announced at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota that he would be cancelling the Obama Administration's political mineral withdrawal in the Superior National Forest. 

On January 19th, 2017, the day before President Trump was sworn in, the previous Administration published a 234,328-acre federal mineral withdrawal application in the Federal Register to restrict for a 20-year moratorium lands within the Superior National Forest in northeast Minnesota.

It is being reported that, upon being briefed on the situation, the President immediately saw the importance to Minnesota workers and families of rescinding the massive withdrawal.

Watch his announcement by clicking here or on the picture below:

The Western Caucus - led by members Tom Emmer and Bruce Westerman as well as Chairman Gosar - has advocated for this outcome since the withdrawal was first put in place. 

Click here to see the full Caucus press release from Thursday!

Congressman Emmer stated, “The President's announcement is great news for Minnesota. My MINER Act demonstrated strong bipartisan support for unleashing our state's mining potential and now, by reversing the politically motivated and short-sighted actions from the Obama administration on their way out the door, President Trump is stepping in to restore local control of Minnesota’s mineral rights. I am hopeful that the steps needed to ensure a full reversal of the former administration's harmful actions are taken soon, specifically ending the withdrawal proposal that has now dragged on for 18 months, to dramatically revitalize local communities and their economies.”

Caucus Anticipates Streamlined White House NEPA Regs

On Tuesday, Members of the Congressional Western Caucus including Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04), House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Vice Chairman for Indian Affairs and Oceans Don Young (AK-At Large), Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) released statements after the White House's Council on Environmental Quality published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking indicating its intent to consider revising regulations governing implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

Congressman Gosar said, "Issued in 1978 and amended in 1986, the Executive's NEPA regulations governing the law's implementation have barely been touched since they were first put in place. Given how much we have learned about how the law plays out in practice since then - and how impactful these regulations are - this fact borders on outrageous. Accordingly, we look forward to working with the White House's Council on Environmental Quality and other relevant federal entities to ensure that NEPA is implemented in a maximally efficient way. This restrictive law has been made far more onerous by executive decisions to bureaucratize rather than streamline its implementation, and it bodes well for our great companies and economy to see the President taking action here."

Congressman Rob Bishop stated, "NEPA’s arbitrary and burdensome mandates are slowing infrastructure progress in the United States while doing little to actually improve environmental outcomes.  I’m thankful CEQ and the Trump administration are serious about bringing our federal environmental review process into the 21st century, and today’s action is critical step forward. My Committee will be working closely with CEQ and agency leadership to create a more logical NEPA enforcement process based on timely, transparent decision-making that yields better results for the economy and environment."

The Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ)  advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register announced it is considering updating implementing regulations for the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to CEQ, “Over the past four decades, CEQ has issued numerous guidance documents but has amended its regulations substantively only once.”

In the notice, CEQ poses 20 individual questions concerning various aspects of the NEPA process and regulation that public commenters have 30 days to respond to. The questions are divided into sections, including those on the current NEPA process, the scope of NEPA reviews and the general NEPA process. More specific questions, including those pertaining to public input into NEPA, proper inter-agency procedures and others are included therein. 

The Administration is likely to take further action at the conclusion of this 30-day public comment period by releasing draft changes to NEPA regulations, which will also be subject to public comment.

To see the full press release click here

Farm Bill Passes House
Contains Healthy Crop of Caucus Victories

On Thursday, the House considered and passed H.R. 2, the Farm bill, in a close 213-211 vote. 

The bill included a plethora of Western Caucus victories by Members including Representatives Westerman, Cheney, Gianforte, Gosar and more. 

Congressman Tipton stated, “This year’s Farm Bill addresses many issues that Coloradans face daily. In addition to maintaining and strengthening critical safety nets that will help farmers and ranchers provide families across the nation with healthy affordable food, this year’s Farm Bill includes important provisions that will help bring high-speed broadband to rural communities, restore responsible forest management practices and prevent dangerous wildfires from ravaging the West, and repeal the burdensome WOTUS rule. I was glad to vote for legislation that will help Coloradans prosper, and I now urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow our lead on the 2018 Farm Bill.”

H.R. 2 makes significant reforms to the farm and nutrition assistance programs and reauthorizes the farm bill for five years.

The bill is good for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. 

The 2014 Farm Bill was initially estimated to save $23 billion over 10 years but has greatly surpassed that estimate and is now expected to save more than $100 billion.

H.R. 2 includes over 35 improvements to SNAP including establishing substantive work requirements for all work capable adults.

The bill has one of the strongest forestry titles of any Farm Bill and was made even stronger by the Western Caucus passed amendments. Specifically, the base bills includes 10 categorical exclusions and reauthorizes the Landscape Scale Restoration Program in order to allow for active management of our nation’s forests and critical response.

Read the full statements by Members of the Western Caucus in the press release here.
Resources Commmittee 'Expedites' Pearce Permitting Bill to Floor

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed Rep. Pearce's H.R. 6106.

The "Common Sense Permitting Act" ensures that the regulatory green-light applied to safe, noncontroversial projects - called a 'categorical exclusion' - is applied all the time once it has been approved.

If enacted, it would ensure individual bureaucrats can't hold up projects that the impartial regulatory process has determined should be expedited.

See the text of this important legislation here

EPA Decides Against Duplication of Discharge & Spill Regs

On Thursday, U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that additional regulatory requirements for hazardous substances discharges would be duplicative, unnecessary & impose undue burdens on 100,000 facilities in the U.S. already subject to an existing framework.

“After engaging the public and analyzing the best available data, EPA believes that additional regulatory requirements for hazardous substances discharges would be duplicative and unnecessary,” said Administrator Pruitt. “If finalized, the proposed rule would give the regulated community the clarity and certainty they need to continue to uphold the law and ensure the nation’s waterways are protected." 

Read the full press release by EPA by clicking on the picture above or here

Administration Releases Bureaucracy Reorganization Plan
On Thursday, the Executive Office of the President released a plan report entitled the "Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch" as responsive to President Trump's Executive Order 13781 to "improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch."

The 132-page report outlines goals, plans and mechanisms for achieving a successful Executive Branch reorganization, stating: 

"This report outlines the Administration’s analysis and recommendations for structural realignment of the Executive Branch to better serve the mission, service, and stewardship needs of the American people. While some of the recommendations identified in this volume can be achieved via Executive administrative action, more significant changes will require legislative action as well.

By sharing key findings, the Administration offers this report as a cornerstone to build productive, bipartisan dialogue around realigning the Federal Government mission delivery model to make sense in the 21st Century. As such, while some of the proposals are ready for agency implementation, others establish a vision for the Executive Branch that will require further exploration and partnership with the Congress."

See the full report here and Executive Order here.

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