The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations voted 25-20 on June 6 to pass the fiscal year 2019 Interior and Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a member of the committee, says the legislation continues many provisions from the 2018 Omnibus spending bill and expands efforts critical to Idaho’s rural economy.
“The House Appropriations Committee has once again put together a bill that reflects the priorities of Idaho and other western members,” Simpson said in a news release.
Among the bill items Simpson listed as important to Idaho are the following:
- Full funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes, $500 million for FY19 and $35 million above the President’s request;
- Full funding for wildfire suppression at the ten-year average of $3.9 billion for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service. Starting in FY20, the Forest Service will be able to treat wildfires like other natural disasters;
- $655 million for hazardous fuels management, such as catastrophic wildfires, a $30 million increase from FY18;
- Language that authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of the Army to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule;
- Language that directs EPA, USDA, and DOE to establish clear policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass;
- A decrease in EPA funding by $100 million, reducing the regulatory programs by $228 million and prioritizing funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan fund;
- Language directing the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a rule removing recovered wolves in in the contiguous United States from the endangered species list;
- Language preventing the listing of sage grouse as an endangered species;
- Funding increase for Recovery Challenge matching grants to share the costs of recovery with corporate and other non-governmental partners such as the Peregrine Fund in Boise;
- Language making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court;
- Funding for the Rural Water Technical Assistance program;
- A $175 million increase for the National Park Service to help reduce the deferred maintenance backlog in the Park system;
- Language prohibiting a ban on issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety;
- Funding for Native American communities to help improve infrastructure and health care needs;
- Language directing the Bureau of Land Management to work with Idaho on aquifer recharge;
- Language directing the BLM to work with local stakeholders to address sediment buildup caused by recent flooding.
“PILT, wildfire funding, and further relief from the last Administration’s regulations are a major focus of this bill,” Simpson said. “I look forward to seeing these provisions signed into law later this year.”
Posted June 8, 2018