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Senate Environment Committee Priorities: Opportunities For Progress

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As the 114 th Congress begins, I welcome the opportunity to serve again on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, because this committee focuses on environmental issues affecting our nation's natural resources, which are fundamental to Idaho.  The committee will be following new common-sense principles and focusing on issues of importance to Idahoans.

In addition to oversight of agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPW Committee has jurisdiction over issues that include fisheries and wildlife, nuclear energy regulation, highways, public works, regional economic development, water resources, and more.  The committee's new leadership has shared its plans to keep the following common-sense principles at the forefront of evaluating legislation and the Administration's actions:

  • Is the policy fiscally responsible?
  • What are the true benefits versus the true costs?
  • Is it based on sound science?
  • How will it affect property owners, local communities, and citizens/taxpayers? 
  • Is the bureaucracy ruling instead of serving?

Making these core objectives-which I wholeheartedly share-a cornerstone of committee efforts will help advance reforms that promote effective environmental policies while supporting economic progress and job growth. 

Addressing the unjustified expansion of federal authority over our waterways is a welcome priority of the committee.  I will continue to use my role on the EPW committee to stop the EPA's attempts to expand federal authority over nearly every stream, ditch, pond, puddle or other local water body.  This federal water grab, taken without statutory authority, undermines states' constitutional water sovereignty, threatens the nation's economy and encroaches on private landowners' ability to utilize their property.   

The committee will also make oversight of the Endangered Species Act to restore local control of conservation efforts a main objective.  Locally-driven collaboration is the best means of addressing many of our wildlife, environment and public lands issues.  I am confident we can enable landowners to work with local wildlife managers to recover species and prevent listings while not trampling property rights and local concerns. 

Additionally, the committee will look at the Obama Administration's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that threatens to impose significant, unnecessary costs on Americans while doing little to improve the environment.  Implementing a long-term, strategic energy plan that reduces environmental risks while improving domestic energy production remains a better course of action.  We must broaden and diversify our energy portfolio by expandingnuclear energy production, hydroelectric power, and other promising renewable and emissions reducing technologies.  In my role on the committee, I will make sure the voice ofthe Idaho National Lab is heard in national energy policy and nuclear safety debates.

Another top committee priority is enacting a fiscally-responsible, long-term highway reauthorization bill that expands on the transportation reforms enacted in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 st Century (MAP-21) law.  I will continue to advocate for maintaining a fiscally-responsible and solvent highway funding formula that maintains funding percentages that are fair to rural areas. 

These are just a few of the issues the EPW committee is expected to consider in the coming congress.  Although the Senate majority changed with the past election, our path for reform is not unobstructed.  But, together, we can make progress.  Protecting our environment is a shared objective.  However,federal environmental policymust be grounded in science, protect our quality of life and provide the greatest benefit to both the environment and people without harming our economy.  We can come together to advance reforms that enhance our natural resources without stopping economic progress.  I will use every opportunity to achieve these goals. 

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