Sunday, January 24, 2016

DuBois Column

Editor's note:  This was written prior to the "occupation" in Oregon.

This month we look at Congressional cowardice and chicanery

Shame on Congress
    Congress recently passed the 2,000-page Omnibus spending bill and many had hoped that with a new Speaker in the House this legislation would start bringing spending under control and place road blocks to the Obama Administration’s most outrageous environmental power grabs.
    Recent appropriations bills had included policy riders that would:
° Prevent the listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act,
° Require the de-listing of wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes from the endangered species   list
° Prevent the implementation of Secretarial Order 3310, issued on December 22, 2010 (Wildlands policy)
° Require a government-wide report on expenditures for global warming, and
° prevent the enforcement of the waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule
    And in this bill? Nada. Zero. Zilch. (sage grouse was there)
    It’s a complete cave-in to the Obama environmental agenda.
    Some are even suggesting we start referring to the current leadership as The Cavemen.
    Perhaps they had at least addressed the spending issue.
    Not hardly.
    The bill increases overall spending, including increases for the BLM, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Park Service.
    And, oh yes, the bill will DOUBLE the spending for federal land acquisition.
    Expressing the frustrations of many New Mexicans, Steve Wilmeth recently wrote in The Westerner, “The funding for sanctuary cities, resettlement of refugees, funding the Endangered Species Act and Planned Parenthood, acceptance of the WOTUS rule, sanctioning the Red River land grab, purchasing more private property in the West, expanding most agency budgets, and extending the tax credits for terminally deficient green energy dreams were all supported.”  Resulting, says Wilmeth, in the Obama agenda being “fully sanctioned by congressional vote.”
    There have been similar reactions by the national media.   Laura Ingraham calls the bill the “omni-bust”, Mark Levin proclaims the Ryan Speakership “already a disaster” and Rush Limbaugh saying despite Republicans controlling “the largest number of seats in the House they’ve had in Congress since the Civil War,” on this bill they’ve sold the country “down the river.”
    Presidential candidates have also taken note, with Ted Cruz saying this “big-government” bill demonstrates, “that we have a government of the lobbyist, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyist” and Donald Trump proclaiming, “Congress threw in the towel and showed absolutely no budget discipline.
    What a shame.
    All four members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation supported the Omnibus spending bill.
Vilsack threatens Congress & The West
    The Forest Service has proposed a new way to fund fighting wildfires, treating them like other natural disasters.  This would replace the current system where if the costs of fire-fighting exceed current appropriations the Forest Service borrows from other programs to cover the costs.
    And now Vilsack is livid that Congress didn’t include the proposal in the Omnibus spending bill.  Vilsack has written what can only be described as a threatening letter to Congress declaring who will no longer initiate interdepartmental transfers to cover the costs of fighting forest fires.
    “If the amount Congress appropriated in 2016 is not sufficient to cover fire suppression costs, Congress will need to appropriate additional funding on an emergency basis,” Vilsack wrote.
    Give me more money or I’ll let the West burn.
    Vilsack needs to explain, however, why it costs the Forest Service so much more to fight fires than the Interior Dept.  In terms of Firefighting Costs Per Acre, in 2014 the Forest Service costs were $1,317 while the costs for the Interior Dept. were $264 per acre.  Why the huge difference in costs, with the Forest Service charging five times as much as Interior? 
    And in case some may think different, Interior’s role is not insignificant.  The Forest Service and Secretary Vilsack are constantly pointing to the near-record number of acres burned in 2015, approximately 9.8 million.  Problem is, less than 20 percent of those acres were on national forest lands, while 54 percent were on Interior lands.
    No wonder Congress didn’t rubber stamp the proposal.
    And that, folks, is all I can stand to write about this month.
    Till next time, be a nuisance to the devil and always check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner ( and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation.

This column originally appeared in the New Mexico Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest.

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