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Idaho Delegation Announces 2017 Service Academy Days

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 23, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

The Idaho Congressional Delegation today announced its 2017 Service Academy Days across Idaho.  Each Service Academy Day session offers students, parents, and counselors the opportunity to meet with liaisons, cadets, and midshipmen from each of the nation’s respective service academies and provides an opportunity for questions.  Staff from Idaho’s four Congressional delegation offices will be on hand to answer questions about the application process for students who are seeking a nomination to our service academies. 

This year, the United States Military Academy at West Point; the U.S. Naval Academy; the U.S. Air Force Academy, and; the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will all be represented at each event.  While a Congressional nomination is not needed to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, representatives will also be in attendance.

Following are the details of each the Service Academy Day:

Thursday, March 02, 2017
Central Idaho
6:00pm-8:00pm
Lewiston High School
1114 9th Avenue
Lewiston

Thursday, March 09, 2017
North Idaho
6:00pm-8:00pm
North Idaho College
Edminster Student Union Building
495 College Drive
Coeur d’Alene

Saturday, April 01, 2017
South Idaho
1:00pm-3:00pm
Gowen Field
Auditorium B440
Boise
NOTE: Picture ID Is required for entrance to the base.

Saturday, April 15, 2017
East Idaho
1:00pm-3:00pm
Idaho National Guard Armory
575 West 21st Street
Idaho Falls

Students who wish to learn more about applying for a military academy nomination but are unable to attend one of the Academy Day events are invited to contact any of the following Academy coordinators for information:

Karen Roetter
Sen. Mike Crapo’s Office
Karen_Roetter@Crapo.senate.gov
(208) 644-5490

Frances Hasenoehrl
Sen. Jim Risch
(208) 743-0792
Frances_Hasenoehrl@Risch.senate.gov

Linda Culver
Congressman Mike Simpson
(208) 734-7219
Linda.Culver@mail.house.gov

Judy Morbeck
Congressman Raul Labrador
(208) 667-0127
Judy.Morbeck@mail.house.gov

 

 

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Crapo, Risch Call for Continued Funding of Secure Rural School Payments

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 17, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

WASHINGTON – Citing the stress on many rural county budgets, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined 78 of their colleagues in sending a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) calling on it to provide funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program in the President’s upcoming budget request that will be submitted to Congress. 

 

SRS payments are vital to many rural budgets as these payments often pay for school programs and personnel like nurses, and for other education services.  These payments are made instead of taxes on lands that are tax-exempt but managed by the federal government.

 

“Idaho’s counties are doing the best they can to manage funding for local schools, roads, bridges, forest management projects and public safety priorities,” said Crapo.  “Secure Rural School payments are critical to ensure that counties across Idaho and the nation are paid for the tax-exempt, federally-managed lands within the state.”

 

“Until we see a significant increase in active forest management on our national forests, the federal government must uphold its commitment to support our rural counties and schools who rely on the SRS program,” said Senator Risch.

 

Text of the letter follows:

 

As the Office of Management and Budget begins its work to set priorities for fiscal year 2018 and write the President’s budget request, we strongly encourage you to support adequate funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination (SRS) program. SRS payments provide critical revenues to more than 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools throughout the country, impacting nine million students across 41 states. In many cases, these “forest counties” include massive swaths of public lands, particularly National Forest System lands, often consuming 65 to 90 percent of total land within their boundaries.

 

Over 100 years ago, recognizing the key support these counties provide to our national forests, Congress passed legislation to specify that 25 percent of revenues from timber harvests on federal lands would be shared with affected counties for “the benefit of the public schools and public roads in county or counties in which national forests are situated.” Though helpful, massive reductions in timber production on federal forests over the last 30 years has dropped revenues by as much as 99 percent in some counties and over 70 percent nationwide.

 

SRS was first enacted in 2000 to renew this 100-year-old revenue sharing promise in light of significant losses faced by forest counties as timber revenues declined. This promise is as relevant today as ever given these counties are still expected to provide essential services on their public lands. SRS expired on September 30, 2015, and it has not been reauthorized for FY16 or beyond. Forest counties and schools received their last authorized SRS payment in March 2016. Without SRS, existing revenue sharing payments are not sufficient to support the services these counties must provide, and counties are forced to choose between critical services for their citizens.

 

Prevailing uncertainties about SRS make it nearly impossible for local governments to plan their annual budgets. The federal government has long recognized its obligation to these forest counties, and we are committed to working in Congress to provide these counties the resources they need to serve their populations. We ask that you do all that you can in FY18 and into the future to work with us in this effort.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

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Crapo Sponsors Senate Companion to Labrador Bill to Fill Gaps in Veterans Education Benefits

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 16, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, has introduced the Shauna Hill Post 9/11 Education Benefits Transferability Act (H.R. 1112) to correct an oversight in current law regarding benefits under the GI Bill.  U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The bill is named for Shauna Hill, a 16-year-old junior at Eagle High School who, in 2012, was killed in an automobile accident. Shauna aspired to attend Stanford University and become a doctor. When her father, Capt. Edward Hill, retired from the Navy after 28 years of service he assigned his GI Bill education benefits to Shauna. After her death, Hill learned he could not transfer his benefits to his surviving daughter.

Labrador first met Capt. Hill and his wife, Heidi, in February 2013, when he and Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, presented the Hill family with a Congressional Bronze Medal posthumously awarded to Shauna for public service, personal development and physical fitness. Shauna was working on her silver medal when she died as a result of injuries suffered in a Dec. 10, 2012, two-car crash at Idaho 16 and Floating Feather Road near Star, Idaho.

Capt. Hill then sought Labrador’s help in working with the Navy in hopes of obtaining a waiver to reassign the education benefit to his surviving daughter. Unfortunately, current law requires any transfer of benefits to happen before retirement. Unable to negotiate an administrative fix, Labrador and his team sought a legislative remedy to ensure that in the future no veteran would find themselves in a similarly tragic situation. Labrador’s bill will allow reassignment of veterans’ education benefits in cases where the designated beneficiary passes away.

“Congress surely didn’t intend to exclude a surviving child or spouse when it expanded GI benefits in 2009,” Labrador said. “Losing a child is the worst thing I can imagine and we honor those who serve by clearing up this inconsistency and providing some small measure of relief.”

“We are grateful to Congressman Labrador for his persistent work on behalf of veterans who experience a tragedy similar to our losing Shauna,” the Hills said in a statement. “While the number of affected families won’t be large, it will be a comfort to us and others facing such a terrible loss.”

“The Hill family suffered a devastating loss,” Crapo said.  “This administrative correction would have a huge impact on military families that have experienced the tragedy of losing a child.  Captain Hill chose to pass his benefit to his eldest child not knowing his family would be struck by such loss.  Captain Hill should be able to pass his remaining benefit on to his surviving daughter.  I fully support Representative Labrador’s efforts to help the Hills and other military families.”

Shauna Hill was a competitive figure skater and ice dancer. She played the violin in the Eagle High School Orchestra, including a performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall.  The accident occurred when she was on her way home from orchestra practice. Her organs were donated and her parents have met the 31-year-old woman who received Shauna’s heart. The couple and Shauna’s sister Haley were also honored with the Spirit of the Red Cross award for overlooked heroism.

Congressman Labrador is joined by 12 of his colleagues in introducing this legislation and is happy to have the Concerned Veterans for America organization endorsing this legislation.

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Crapo, Risch, McCaskill Bill Would Provide Regulatory Relief to Farmers, Water Users

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 16, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing legislation that would eliminate a costly and redundant U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation affecting pesticide users.  S. 340, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), seeks to clarify congressional intent concerning the federal regulation of pesticides and codify longstanding interpretation of regulatory statutes after a 2009 court ruling imposed an additional layer of needless red tape on pesticide applicators.  The bill is also cosponsored by Idaho Senator Jim Risch.  

For more than 30 years, the EPA has implemented a comprehensive and rigorous regulatory structure for pesticide applications under what is commonly known as FIFRA, or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.   FIFRA governs the sale, distribution and use of pesticides, with the goal of protecting human health and the environment.  The statute requires pesticides to be evaluated (undergoing more than 100 tests) and registered with EPA, and for users to comply with agency-approved, uniform labeling standards. Unfortunately, despite this federal regulatory framework already in place, a 2009 court decision forced EPA to begin requiring Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for certain applications of pesticides in or near water.  This duplicative regulatory requirement went into effect in 2011. 

“For too long, a variety of stakeholders in Idaho and across the nation have been subjected to unnecessary and duplicative federal regulations that add compliance costs and increase the threat of litigation,” said Crapo.  “SEPA will restore the proper regulatory regime for the use of pesticides Congress intended and provide much needed regulatory relief for our farmers, irrigators, pest control authorities, forest managers and others.”

"Idaho businesses, farmers, irrigation districts, and many more are being disproportionately impacted by these redundant EPA and other federal regulations” said Risch. “This legislation would take another step to reduce red tape and bureaucracy.”

SEPA clarifies that CWA permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water.  The bill also requires EPA to report back to Congress on whether the FIFRA process can be improved to better protect human health and the environment.

As a result of this dual regulation, EPA has estimated an additional 365,000 pesticide users—including farmers, ranchers, state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators and forest managers that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually—were  required to obtain CWA permits.  This is nearly double the number of entities previously subjected to permitting requirements, costing more than $50 million a year.

In addition to Sens. Crapo, Risch and McCaskill, Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) joined in introducing the measure.

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Crapo Leads Bipartisan Bill to Spur Rail Investment

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 16, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow have introduced the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy, or BRACE Act, which would make permanent a critical tax credit used to repair and upgrade short line railroads.

“Our agriculture communities rely on small business freight railroads to connect their products to markets across nation and around the globe,” said Crapo.  “These are crucial economic corridors that serve our communities across the nation.  This measure will allow short line railroads to make long-term plans for infrastructure repairs and upgrades, improving the link between our rural communities and the national freight railroad network.” 

The short line railroad track maintenance credit provides short line and regional railroads a 50 percent tax credit for railroad track maintenance expenses, up to $3,500 per mile of track owned or leased by the railroad. The short line railroads ensure that small manufacturers’ products can get to markets in an efficient and cost-effective manner. 

In Idaho, federal tax incentive legislation introduced and passed by Crapo is credited in part for a the rail expansion project, whose effects will be felt from Burley to Pocatello, to Idaho Falls, Twin Falls and Boise.  Crapo is now working with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and others to make this change in the tax code permanent.

“Last fall, I visited with Watco Companies in Burley and Boise and saw, in person, how important short line railroads are to companies here in Idaho,” added Crapo.  “Companies like Watco and its rail partners employ more than 150 Idahoans.  Thanks to legislation like the BRACE Act, that number will increase as added shipments are utilized.”

Since 2006 Congress has acted periodically to extend the credit, often retroactively and often almost a year after expiration.  This uncertainty causes private investment to decline, limits investments in safety and customer service, and provides uncertainty to businesses, farmers, and employers that cannot be globally competitive without freight rail.

“The team members on the Boise Valley Railroad, the Eastern Idaho Railroad, and the Great Northwest Railroad focus every day on the needs of Idaho farmers, timber producers, and industrial customers,” said Ed McKechnie, Watco Companies Chief of Global Strategy. “Senator Crapo’s efforts in support of rural transportation have built a strong bipartisan coalition in Congress and has made tremendous impacts for the Idaho economy. We appreciate his leadership and we will continue to put our customers first and invest in Idaho infrastructure with the support of this important bill.”

Crapo and Stabenow’s bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).

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Crapo Supports Resolution to Protect Constitutional Rights of Social Security Beneficiaries

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 15, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today voted to support a Resolution of Disapproval that will stop a rule issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) from stripping the Second Amendment rights of some Social Security beneficiaries. 

“Today’s resolution of disapproval will stop the Social Security Administration from stigmatizing people with disabilities and stripping beneficiaries of their Second Amendment rights,” said Crapo, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The Social Security Administration is not a court of law and it is unacceptable that it take any action against a beneficiary without due process.  Congress has done the right thing to stop this overreach and repeal this rule.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress may submit a joint resolution of disapproval to overturn a final rule issued by an Executive Branch agency.  The resolution approved today will halt a rule submitted by SSA in December 2016.  The rule requires SSA to report individuals who have been adjudicated as “mentally defective” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS).  Under the rule, individuals who have been appointed a representative payee may also be submitted to NICS.  In some cases, the SSA may appoint, or a beneficiary may request, a representative payee to assist  a beneficiary with managing their benefits.  The wide-ranging rule will affect many Americans as more than eight million beneficiaries need help managing their benefits, according to SSA.  Earlier this year, Senator Crapo introduced a bill to effectively overturn the rule and highlighted it in an op-ed this month.  The Resolution passed today by the Senate will enact the changes Senator Crapo sought to address with his legislation.

The measure now goes to President Trump who is expected to sign the measure.

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Crapo Encourages Students to Apply for Senate Internship Program

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 15, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Washington, D.C. –The deadline is rapidly approaching for Idaho’s students to apply for internship opportunities in U.S. Senator Mike Crapo’s Washington, D.C., office, or in one of his six regional offices throughout Idaho. Students have until March 1 to submit an application to be considered for an internship position for both the summer and fall semesters.

The internship experience provides Idaho students a unique opportunity to learn about Congress and the legislative process firsthand.  Interns assist the Senator and his staff with legislative research, constituent services and communications operations, as well as attend congressional hearings and provide tours of the U.S. Capitol to visiting Idahoans.

To learn more about internships offered through Crapo’s office and for application materials, please visit the internship section under the constituent services tab at crapo.senate.gov.  Due to unanticipated delays in mail delivery on Capitol Hill, students are encouraged to email their application and materials to Senator Crapo’s office.  Questions about internships in Washington, D.C. may be directed to Katie Amacio at (202) 224-6142, and to Courtney Lehosit for internships in Idaho at (208) 334-1776.

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Crapo Statement at Hearing on the Fed's Semiannual Monetary Policy Report

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 14, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, today delivered the following opening remarks during a full committee hearing on “The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress."  The text of Chairman Crapo’s remarks, as prepared, is below.

“Today we will receive testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen regarding the Fed’s semiannual report to Congress on monetary policy and the state of the economy. 

“It will come as no surprise to you, Chair Yellen, that improving economic growth is a key priority for Congress this year.

“2016 was the 11th consecutive year that the U.S. economy failed to grow by more than 3 percent. 

“One way to improve economic growth is to study and address areas where regulations can be improved. 

“Since the financial crisis, regulators have imposed thousands of pages of new regulations.

“We all need to better understand the combined impact of these rules on lending, liquidity, costs for small financial institutions, and broader economic growth.

“It is time to reassess what is working and what is not.

“I am encouraged by President Trump’s Executive Order on Core Principles for regulating the financial system. 

“Directing the Treasury Secretary, in consultation with the heads of the member agencies of Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), including you, Chair Yellen, to report on how well existing laws and regulations promote or inhibit economic growth will be a helpful step as we move forward. 

“Financial regulation should strike the proper balance between the need for a safe and sound financial system and the need to promote a vibrant, growing economy.

“I expect the Vice Chairman for Supervision, once confirmed, will play an important role in striking this balance.

“We want our nation’s banks to be well-capitalized and well-regulated, without being drowned by unnecessary compliance costs.

“This is especially important for community banks and credit unions, which lack the personnel and infrastructure to handle the overwhelming regulatory burden of the past few years, yet in many ways are treated the same as the world’s biggest institutions.

“At the last Humphrey Hawkins hearing, Chair Yellen stated that simplifying regulations for community banks continues to be a focus for the Fed. I hope that remains the case.

“Our regulatory regime should be properly tailored and avoid a one-size fits all approach.

“The Fed recently took an encouraging step in that direction when it finalized changes to exempt certain banks from the qualitative portion of the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). 

“Another area I would like to address is the $50 billion SIFI threshold for regional banks.

“In prior hearings, we have discussed whether $50 billion is the appropriate threshold, and I hope that we can work together to craft a more appropriate standard.

“My goal is to work with senators of this Committee and financial regulators to better strike the balance between smart, thoughtful regulation, and promoting economic growth.

“It has also been nearly a decade since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put into conservatorship.   

“Housing finance reform remains the most significant piece of unfinished business following the crisis, and it is important to build bipartisan support for a path forward.

“For many years, the Fed expressed concerns about Fannie and Freddie, and I encourage you, Chair Yellen, and the Fed to work with the Committee to find a solution. 

“With respect to monetary policy, it has now been nearly a decade since the Fed began easing monetary policy in the fall of 2007 in response to the emerging financial crisis. 

“Today, the Fed still holds close to $4.5 trillion in assets on its balance sheet, which includes approximately 35 percent of the outstanding agency mortgage backed security market.

“I look forward to hearing from Chair Yellen on how the Fed plans to normalize monetary policy and wind down the Fed’s balance sheet. 

“The Banking Committee has a lot of work to do this Congress. 

“My goal is to work with Ranking Member Brown and other members of the Committee to identify some bipartisan bills that we can quickly get signed into law.

“At the same time, we plan to start work on housing finance reform, flood insurance, sanctions, and legislation to boost economic growth in this country.

“I look forward to working with you, Chair Yellen, the Federal Reserve, and other members of the Committee to tackle some of these critical issues that I’ve mentioned this morning.

“With that, Madam Chair, we look forward to your comments today.”

 

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Crapo, Risch Congratulate Boise Teacher on Teaching Excellence Award

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 14, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Washington, D.C. – In a joint statement, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch congratulated Sonia Galaviz, a fifth grade teacher from Boise who was recently awarded the NEA Foundation’s Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence:

“Sonia Galaviz has truly earned this recognition. For nearly 15 years, she has served as a positive role model for Idaho’s youth and has inspired students to meet their full potential. Her work has enriched our community. We applaud Sonia’s commitment to educating the next generation of Americans and congratulate her on this achievement.”

Sonia Galaviz teaches at Garfield Elementary School. She has been a teacher for nearly 15 years and has earned numerous other recognitions.

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Western Senators Introduce Greater Sage-Grouse Protection and Recovery Act

Mike Crapo's Senate Member Office (R-ID) posted a Press Release on February 1, 2017 | 1:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) today introduced the Greater Sage-Grouse Protection and Recovery Act of 2017, legislation allowing states to implement their own specific conservation and management plans to protect greater sage-grouse populations and their habitats, in lieu of federal management. Original cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dean Heller (R-NV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Steve Daines (R-MT).

“Senator Risch and I strongly support the collaborative work undergone in Idaho, other state governments and a broad range of impacted stakeholders to conserve habitat for the sage grouse,” said Senator Crapo.  “This legislation will provide states the ability to implement locally-based land management plans that were developed and will be managed by those who know the local conditions and needs best."

“If the federal government shares our concerns and goals, it will allow the states to implement their own plans to protect the sage-grouse while at the same time meeting their individual community’s needs,” said Senator Risch.

“The current heavy-handed sage-grouse plans needlessly impose restrictions on millions acres of land in Nevada alone, threatening our western way of life while doing little to improve habitat. Our legislation allows western states the flexibility to choose the proper methods to improve the sage-grouse population while keeping Nevada’s economic stability and community needs in mind,” said Senator Heller.

“For years, state leaders have worked tirelessly to develop and implement careful, pragmatic plans to protect the Greater Sage-grouse and its habitat," said Senator Hatch. "These efforts have paid off tremendously, producing laudable results in the continued conservation and recovery of the species. This legislation will empower the states to continue their good work in conserving the species while simultaneously protecting our lands and jobs from federal overreach.”

“No one knows how to take care of Utah better than Utahns,” Senator Lee said. "Our State of has spent millions of dollars restoring half a million acres of sage grouse habitat, but despite this success, the federal government has forced its own plan on us. This bill will restore the proper state-federal sage grouse management balance."

Sage-grouse habitat is spread out over more than a quarter million square miles. Currently, the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service manage federal lands with sage-grouse habitat under nearly 100 separate land use plans affecting tens of millions of acres.

The Greater Sage-Grouse Protection and Recovery Act would allow states to choose between implementing their own conservation and management plan based on their community specific needs or deferring to federal agencies for greater sage-grouse protection. Further, this legislation would prohibit the Secretary of Interior from conducting large scale mineral withdrawals for the protection of greater sage-grouse. A companion measure to this legislation was introduced in the House on January 13, 2017 with eleven original sponsors from seven western states.

More about the bill:

  • For 10 years, the current status of the bird under the Endangered Species Act will be maintained, which the Fish and Wildlife Service has determined does not warrant ESA protection.
  • The BLM and Forest Service will be required to report annually to Congress on the status of the species on federal lands under their jurisdictions.
  • The bill also prevents litigation aimed at upending this carefully crafted compromise that gives state plans a chance to work in response to data on population trends compiled by the federal agencies. 

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