BlueRibbon Coalition BRC: BRC National Legislative Update

Date: 07/26/2011
BRC National Legislative Update
Dear BRC Members and Supporters,
Time for another National Legislative Update. As you will read, the news is generally good.
BRC's Greg Mumm has been spending a lot of time meeting with lawmakers and educating them on various recreation and public lands issues. Even with the big budget debate, there is a lot going on.
Don't miss the first blurb about the House testimony on H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act. This is very exciting news.
BRC will continue to update our members as this Congress moves along. So, as we so often say, stay tuned!
As always, call or email if you have comments or concerns.
Brian Hawthorne Ric Foster
Public Lands Policy Public Lands Department Manager
BlueRibbon Coalition BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102 208-237-1008 ext 107

House Committee hears testimony on Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011
As you read this, testimony has just finished in the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, chaired by Representative Rob Bishop (UT), on H.R. 1581, the "Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011.
An impressive list of "testifiers" was on the docket, including Stewards of the Sequoia's Chris Horgan and well-known Utah State Legislator Mike Noel. Testifying in the "against" category was former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
The bill was originally introduced in the U.S. House on April 15, 2011, by Representatives Kevin McCarthy (CA), Rob Bishop (UT), Steve Pearce (NM) and 19 other U.S. Representatives. Senators John Barrasso (WY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Orrin Hatch (UT) and Dean Heller (NV) introduced the Senate version (S. 1087).
Among other things, the bill releases Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that were determined as not-suitable for wilderness designation and directs BLM to manage released lands in accordance with multiple-use and sustained-yield provisions.
The bill also terminates Secretarial Order 3310 with regard to the released WSAs and prohibits the Interior Secretary from issuing a national regulation that directs how released lands will be managed.
See BRC's previous release for more info:
BRC Encourages Members to Support WSA Release Legislation

Wilderness bills in limbo?
Recreationists have been watching several pending Wilderness bills including Montana Senator Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, Idaho's Representative Simpson's Boulder White Cloud (a.k.a. CIEDRA) and Colorado Representative Polis's controversial "Hidden Gems' bills, among others.
With all of the focus on the budget battle and our nation's deficit crisis, it is difficult to comment on the chances of any public lands bill passing. Notwithstanding other nationally important issues, New Mexico Senator Bingaman, Chair of the powerful Senate Natural Resources Committee says that the odious "Omnibus Package" paradigm may continue.
BRC keeps a close eye on pending Wilderness bills and should any legislation impacting recreational access begin to move, we will be sure to notify our members.
Please do your part:
Without millions in lobbying cash to throw around DC, our influence comes when individual OHV enthusiasts make the effort to pick up the phone and make their voice known to their elected representatives. So when you see a Action Alert from BRC, please do your part.

Interior Secretary as Wilderness Society Lobbyist?
Andrew Restuccia posted this item on The Hill's Energy & Environment Blog
Salazar queries Congress on wilderness protections
The Interior Department asked members of Congress Friday for their input in developing a list of public lands that deserve wilderness protection, part of an effort by the administration to work closely with lawmakers after its "wild lands policy" was scuttled by Republicans.
Critics said the plan was as an effort to circumvent Congress's authority and raised fears that it could be used to make lands off-limits to oil-and-gas drilling.
Secretary Salazar is appealing to members of Congress and other politicians in public lands states help him to "support providing permanent protection for some BLM lands under the Wilderness Act." It seems to us that in an era of declining budgets the Secretary should be working to implement its mission and its management plans and leave the Wilderness lobbying for the Wilderness Society's Lobbyists.

Government Litigation Savings Act Gets bump from USFS report
A bill that would put a halt to federal funding gravy train used by litigious environmental groups got a big shot in the arm from a study published in the latest issue of the Society of American Foresters' (SOF) Journal of Forestry.
According to a report published by E&E News, data obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests indicates the US Forest Service alone paid an astounding $6.1 million in legal fees over a six-year period. The SOF study was conducted by Michael Mortimer, an assistant professor at the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech University, and Robert Malmsheimer, a professor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Wyoming Senator Barrasso and Wyoming Representative Lummis have introduced the Government Litigation and Savings Act in an effort to halt the abuses of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), legislation originally designed to help individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations recover attorney's fees and costs associated with suing the federal government.
Sadly, environmental groups used the EAJA to create a gravy train of taxpayer-funded litigation that advances their own radical environmental agenda. Indeed, court documents reveal that these environmental groups repeatedly sue the federal government not on substantive grounds, but on canned procedural motions. Previous studies indicates environmental groups have sued the government over 1200 times and received upwards of $35 million dollars of taxpayer money.
Government Litigation Savings Act
GLSA Section by Section
GLSA Endorsements

Congressional Funding Update
This week the U.S. House of Representatives will begin debate on H.R. 2584, the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Among other things, this bill authorizes funding for public land management agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management.
The machinations may be worth watching on C-Span as the new Republican majority returned to "open rules" and "regular order," which means any member can offer amendments during the debate.
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Representative Mike Simpson (ID), has been working for months to craft a Interior Department budget that addressed several controversial issues as well as a skyrocketing federal budget deficit. In a press release sent earlier this week, Simpson said:
H.R. 2584, the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY12, responds to our nation's current debt crisis by reducing spending by $2.1 billion. Of these cuts, $1.5 billion come from the EPA. "Currently the federal government borrows over 40 cents for each dollar it spends. While reductions in discretionary spending alone will not erase the deficit, FY12 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act is a step forward in that direction."
The Interior Appropriations bill also addresses several regulations placed on business and industry by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "If we want our economy to make a sustainable recovery, we need to provide the certainty that job creators need to invest in their businesses and get our economy growing again. This bill takes important steps to do that."
The budget has some good news and bad news for recreationists. Good news is the budget continues last year's ban on any funds to BLM for implementation of Secretary Salazar's Wild Land policy. Also good news is a mandate to the BLM, EPA and USFS to file detailed report on any payments made via the Equal Access to Justice Act.
Bad news is that Simpson's subcommittee failed to take action on an amendment expected from Montana Representative Denny Rehberg that would prevent any unilateral National Monument designations.
The proposal would cut BLM's budget $43 million and increase the US Forest Service $4 million. The outcome of the spending measure is uncertain. Many legislators oppose measures Simpson was able to insert into the bill, but others say spending is still too high.

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