Monday, August 01, 2011

Improve public-lands management, end frivolous lawsuits

Mike Simpson
As every single rancher who lives west of the Mississippi River knows, our nation's leading environmental laws have evolved from species and resource protection acts at their inception to land and water control acts today. Regrettably, this evolution of well-intended legislation has resulted in a federal public land management regime that places the opinions of untrained judges above those of trained land managers. For too long, Congress has sat idly by watching as the courts transform federal laws away from what Congress intended and toward an ideology that abhors multiple-uses and openly states its desire to move both livestock and anything with wheels off of public lands. It is time Congress restores balance to the management of public lands, and that is exactly what I am trying to do in the Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for next year. As Chairman, I have tried to write a bill that restores some of that balance as early as this fall and creates an incentive for varied interests to negotiate new reforms to laws such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Equal Access to Justice Act. These laws are long overdue for update and reauthorization, yet those reforms are not viable because one side of the discussion, congressional Democrats and their allies, have no reason to come to the table. Simply put, the status quo works just fine for them because the status quo leads to increasingly restrictive management of public lands through the courts...more

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