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Weekly Column: Advocating For Idaho--Support For Western Natural Resource Policies That Enhance Our Environment And Economy

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Idaho is fortunate to be home to some of our nation’s most unique landscapes and vast natural resources.  I am dedicated to protecting our environment in a manner that ensures the vitality of our forests and rangelands, protects the rights of property owners and addresses the economic needs of our rural communities.

We have a responsibility to ensure that our local communities are consulted on decisions that impact the land on which they live and depend.  Measures that empower state and local officials and private stakeholders to lead in the decision-making processes pertaining to our public lands help to avoid the drawn-out conflicts and costly litigation that we see all too often in communities throughout the West.  I continue to work to enact land management policies that ensure the strength of our natural environment, maintain public access and maintain resilient, self-sustaining economies for our rural counties for years to come. 

For example, I recently joined fellow members of the Senate Western Caucus, including fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch, in requesting Senate Appropriators support policies that play a vital role in maintaining the economic and environmental well-being of our region.  The Senate Western Caucus is made up of Senators from western and rural states unified behind a western approach to solving America's problems.  In the letter, we advocated for the following priorities:

  • Block the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Conservation and Landscape Health Rule: We stressed that rewriting the multiple-use mandate of our federal lands goes against both congressional intent and the will of those who work, recreate, or live near federal lands.  We expressed our strong opposition to this rule and urged the prohibition of its implementation. 
  • Block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan 2.0 and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule: We expressed opposition to the implementation of these proposed rules that force power plants to close, discourage new investments, increase costs for consumers and harm the reliability of our electric grid.  We also noted these rules have dubious legal standing based on Supreme Court decisions and exceed congressionally delegated authority.
  • Continue Prohibition on Greater Sage-Grouse Listing: We stressed that enabling state and local communities to make informed decisions on the ground remains the most effective approach for conserving the greater sage-grouse and sustaining rural western communities and urged the continuation of the prohibition against listing the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. 
  • Wild Horse and Burro Management: We highlighted that because wild horse and burro populations double every four years, the federal government needs to take the necessary steps to prevent overpopulation that would pose a threat to western rangeland.
  • Wildfire Suppression and Prevention: We urged the prioritization of resources for wildfire suppression, forest management and the firefighting workforce to address the challenges with forest fires burning longer and hotter.

We concluded the letter, “As members of the Senate Western Caucus, we seek to promote and defend the western way of self-reliance, local decision-making, and love of the land.  We believe the most successful land management policies are collaborative in nature and take into full consideration those whose heritage and livelihoods are tied to our lands and resources.  Those who are closest and depend the most on the land are best equipped to take on land management challenges.”  I will continue to work to advance policies that best address these and other issues that impact the economic and environmental well-being of the West.

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