The House Interior appropriations bill passed through committee on Tuesday 30 to 21, including provisions for grazing, sage grouse and the waters of the U.S. rule.
The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association support the bill, which stipulates how federal dollars are spent for the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and related agencies during fiscal year 2016.
This bill would maintain the current grazing fee, fund the range budgets at the same levels as fiscal year 2015 and prohibit funding for the creation of de facto wilderness areas under Secretarial Order 3310.
These are all critical in maintaining the viability of federal lands grazing and multiple use, said Dustin Van Liew, Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association federal lands director.
"This bill contained several priorities for public lands ranchers," Van Liew said. "Our industry supports the current federal grazing fee formula, which is based on market criteria and accurately reflects the costs of operating on public lands."
The bill also continues to block listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act through September 30, 2016. According to Van Liew, research shows that livestock grazing is one of the only tools available to benefit sage grouse habitat; reducing fuel loads and preserving open space.
Scott Yager, NCBA environmental counsel, said the bill also included language that would curb the Waters of the U.S. implementation.
"This committee took the much needed step of defunding the implementation of the EPA's waters of the United States final rule," Yager said. "The provisions contained in this legislation send a clear signal to the EPA that they need to start over."
The committee also included a provision to withhold funding to any rule that would require mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems. The committee additionally continued to include language preventing EPA from requiring Clean Air Act permits from livestock operations based on greenhouse gas emissions.