Each year, I hear from thousands of Idahoans who write, e-mail, fax and call my offices to let me know how they feel about issues facing our country today. On average, I receive approximately 1,000 letters and e-mails a week. In recent years, an increasing number of that correspondence has come via electronic means. Even with such a volume of correspondence, I try to respond to each Idahoan as promptly as possible. In an effort to be even more responsive and to fully utilize the technology available through the Internet, this web page features the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my response on each from the previous week. You may also wish to review information in the Issues Section or details from my Legislative Record, which lists bills I have sponsored and co-sponsored.
Here are the top issues Idahoans have recently written me about:
Clearly we have a responsibility to preserve, maintain and enhance our natural environment. While there is strong disagreement on how to accomplish this goal, the best policies for addressing environmental problems must be grounded in science, protect our quality of life and provide the greatest benefit to both the environment and people without unintentionally harming our economy. I continue to strongly support policies that protect ecological health, facilitate the sustainable and multiple use of our public lands, and incentivize the proper stewardship of public lands.
Ensuring an environmentally-sustainable future for generations to come will require a careful allocation of energy production and use. Traditional, affordable sources of energy remain critical to our nation’s energy security. However, the United States must invest in a robust expansion of alternative and renewable emissions reducing technologies. By expanding and diversifying our energy resources, we can reduce risks to the environment, promote a strong domestic energy sector and increase our energy security for future generations.
As Co-Chairman of the Senate Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I am a strong supporter of renewable and alternative energy sources. As a nation, we must set a national energy policy that will meet our energy needs while ensuring an environmentally sustainable future for generations to come. In fact, Idaho is a national leader in the use of clean, renewable power. Eighty-five percent of Idaho’s electricity is generated through the use of hydropower, and another six percent is generated though other renewables, such as wind. Hydropower and nuclear power are a huge part of the clean energy equation because these sources of electricity generation are the only sources of non-emitting base load power.
Health care reform is a top priority in the 115th Congress and as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care issues, input from Idahoans are valued. Congress has an obligation to fight for the American people, especially when there is a broken health care system in need of repair. I look forward to working with my colleagues to find the best possible solutions to make much needed changes to the President’s health care law. America deserves a better process and a better product, and I look forward to doing my part to make this happen.
Put simply, public lands should remain public. Their values should be preserved and enhanced, and all Idahoans should be able to use and enjoy reasonable access to them. However, in too many cases the federal government is not doing a good job in managing lands under its ownership, and many Idahoans can point to specific examples they have personally experienced or witnessed.
State and federal lands management laws and processes too often drive us to conflict and litigation, and should be reformed to allow more participation-in and influence over management decisions by those closest to the land. State government, local officials and private stakeholders should be empowered to more meaningfully participate in the decision-making processes pertaining to our public lands. Outcomes from this collaborative, consensus building approach will be better for both the environment and the natural resource based economies of Idaho. These outcomes can result in administrative and/or legislative action on the public land in question. The Owyhee Initiative is an example of the kind of collaborative approach that respects the needs of all affected stakeholders by building on the knowledge that local communities have about the public lands that literally comprise their backyards.
The land management challenges facing Idaho and western states did not happen overnight. As such, it will take time, dedicated efforts and robust public participation to achieve the outcomes we all seek. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to enact federal land management policies that maintain public access and ensure resilient, self-sustaining economies for our rural counties for years to come.
The Senate will carefully review a number of critical nominations put forth by President Biden and his Administration. In doing so, I will faithfully evaluate each nominee’s background and qualifications and give serious consideration to the input I receive from Idahoans. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughtful insights with me. I will consider all presidential nominations in a way that reflects the interests and needs of Idahoans and the American people.