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Jan. 16, 2014: Amid smiles and tears, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard P. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., announces his intention to retire from Congress at the end of the year after eleven terms on Capitol Hill in Washington. Joining an exodus from Congress by both Democrats and Republicans, veteran McKeon tearfully announced Thursday that hes retiring after 21 years, stepping down as House Armed Services Committee chairman. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
PASCO, Wash. – Veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington state has announced he’ll retire at the end of the year.
Hastings is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
He has represented central Washington for two decades. The Pasco-based lawmaker was first elected to the U.S. House in 1994 after beating then-Congressman Jay Inslee, the current Washington governor.
Before his career in the nation’s capital, Hastings served in the state House from 1979 to 1987.
Hastings says he just turned 73, and it’s time for voters to choose a “new person with new energy to represent them.” He adds his children, their spouses and his eight grandchildren all now reside in Washington state, and he looks forward to spending more time with them.
Hastings Votes to Fully Defund Obamacare and Keep the Federal Government Open
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 230-189 on Friday to fully defund Obamacare, while funding the government through December 15, 2013. “Today, the House sent a clear signal to the American people: we will do everything we can to defund President Obama’s failed health care mandate and to keep the government running,”said Congressman Doc Hastings. “We must fund the federal government at responsible levels, continue to pay our dedicated servicemen and women, and ensure our seniors continue to receive their Social Security checks. Now the Senate must act to keep the government open and defund this unworkable health care law, which is costing American jobs and creating economic uncertainty.”
House Approves Legislation to Strengthen Rural Communities, Schools, and Prevent Wildfires
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed Hastings’ bill, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526), by a bipartisan vote of 244-173. The bill renews the federal government’s commitment to improving local management of our federal forests, provide stable funding for counties to use for education and infrastructure, and help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires that have scarred much of our country. “This is a long-term solution that will put Americans back to work and restore the commitment our government made to these communities,”said Chairman Hastings. An amendment to H.R. 1526 passed, with Hastings’ support, that would ensure more public input on U.S. Forest Service decisions to close local roads. Recent decisions to close roads are restricting access to recreational users, local property owners, and could obstruct fire and emergency vehicle travel to the area.
Subcommittee Examines Bureaucratic Red Tape to New Hydropower Development
On Thursday, Hastings attended the House Subcommittee on Water and Power oversight hearing on “Keeping Hydropower Affordable and Reliable: The Protection of Existing Hydropower Investments and the Promotion of New Development.” The hearing examined how existing federal and non-federal hydropower resources are being compromised by litigation and regulation, while new and potentially amply hydropower generation faces uncertainty and bureaucratic inaction. John Grubich, General Manager of Public Utility District No. 1 of Okanogan County described the roadblocks utilities face while pursuing the addition of hydropower to existing non-federal dams. “The key federal land management agency pursued excessive and costly additional requirements with little or no relationship to Project impacts. BLM pursed this wish list of additional measures without regard to their potentially serious economic consequences for the Project.”
Last week, Hastings co-sponsored the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 (H.R. 2429). Introduced by Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the bipartisan legislation would protect family farms and small businesses in Central Washington by permanently eliminating the federal estate tax, better known as the death tax. Our family farmers and small business owners pay taxes their entire lives, and the burden of an additional tax upon the death of an owner is unfair and wrong. In fact, a study by former Congressional Budget Office Director, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, found that repealing the death tax would create 1.5 million additional small business jobs and would reduce the unemployment rate by almost 1 percent. A nearly identical bill received the bipartisan support of 223 Representatives and 38 Senators last Congress.
On Wednesday, the Committee held an oversight hearing on “The Department of the Interior Operations, Management, and Rulemakings” and heard testimony from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Chairman Hastings reiterated his concern over the Interior Department’s job-destroying policies and lack of transparency.
“These destructive patterns that cost jobs, block public input, and disregard transparency must come to an end. The Department must get back on track to being a job-creator for the good of our country and economy,” said Chairman Hastings.
Click here to read the Chairman’s full opening statement.
Subcommittee Holds Hearing on National Blueways Order
Members and Witnesses express concerns despite Interior’s temporary “pause” on program
On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Water and Power held an oversight hearing on “A Washington, DC- Based Bureaucratic Invention with Potential Water Conservation and Property Rights Impacts: The National Blueways Order.” This hearing highlighted current and potential problems with the National Blueways Order, which imposes a federal watershed designation process with questionable legal authorities, little to no community input, and a lack of transparency.
Previously, at the Full Committee hearing earlier on Wednesday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that she was putting a “pause” on the National Blueways program. However, Members continued to express concern over the impact of future designations and questioned exactly what the Department means by a “pause.”
“Earlier today in response to rapidly building opposition, the new Secretary of the Interior off-handedly announced she’s calling a pause to the Blueways Order ‘until we figure out the future of the program.’ The Subcommittee welcomes this announcement but the question occurs: does this mean a pause until the heat dies down or does it mean a genuine intention to step back from a legally suspect, economically damaging and politically unpopular initiative?” said Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock.
PNP comment: You have got to be kidding me? Nope, Sally is going for bear! — Editor Liz Bowen
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2013 – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell seeking further information about the implementation of the National Blueways Secretarial Order. Signed by Secretary Salazar in 2012, this Order establishes a National Blueways System and gives authority to the Secretary to designate entire watersheds as “National Blueways.” There are growing concerns that the Order has the potential to impose land and water use restrictions and undermine property rights. Numerous Members of the House and Senate have expressed concerns that this designation process could happen with no public input, no consultation, and little transparency. Recent testimony heard by the Subcommittee on Water and Power raised further concerns about the secrecy behind potential designations and lack of public involvement.
“Given the vast implications that such an order could have on communities, local conservation efforts, and private property rights across the nation, as well as its impact on more than a century of federal deference to state water law, delays in providing answers and information will only fuel uncertainty and jeopardize planning for localized conservation efforts and economic growth,” wrote Chairman Hastings in the letter.
In the letter, Chairman Hastings asks for explanations about the designation process, the makeup of the National Blueways Committee, the potential for federal land acquisition under the Order, and the involvement of Department of the Interior Senior Advisor Rebecca Wodder, who was forced to withdraw her nomination as Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks due to her support of controversial policies while serving as CEO of American Rivers.
Hastings Commends Decision to Delist the Gray Wolf as an Endangered Species
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its decision Friday to remove the Gray Wolf from the endangered species list, leaving future management and conservation efforts to the states for all gray wolf populations in the lower 48 states. “The Service’s decision today to delist gray wolves only makes sense, and is long overdue. This untangles the ridiculous situation in Washington, Oregon, and Utah, where wolves had been listed one side of a highway, and not on the other,”said Hastings. “Private landowners, local governments and states should not be subjected to federal wolf listings when wolf populations are thriving, up as much as 300 percent in some areas, and will be managed much more effectively at the state level.” Hastings, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, has promised continued oversight of the Service’s closed-door Endangered Species Act (ESA) settlements and the countless arbitrary deadlines for potentially hundreds of species listings and critical habitat designations set to go into effect this year without sufficient state and local input.
Public Comment Period Extended for Proposed Endangered Species Listing
Last month, Hastings received a response from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe in response to his May 15th letter requesting an extension for meaningful public comment on the endangered species designation of two plants. The designation of the Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod, two plants that are found on thousands of acres in Franklin County and Benton County, could impact private property landowners and cost local farmers thousands of dollars. The Service’s decision to hastily list two plants as endangered, without giving a meaningful opportunity for those impacted to submit comments, raises serious concerns on the decision-making process for these designations. Click here to submit your comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service on the proposed status and designation of critical habitat for the White Bluffs bladderpod.
House Approves 2014 Appropriations Bills for Veterans, Homeland Security
On Tuesday, June 4, with my support, the House passed H.R. 2216, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014, which provides $73.3 to support the military and their families and to provide benefits and medical care for our nation’s veterans. On Thursday, June 6, the House approved H.R. 2217, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014, which provides $38.9 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. The funding is intended to prioritize operations, provide sufficient resources to fulfill essential missions, reduce bureaucratic overhead, and administer greater oversight and accountability.
House Scheduled to Consider Two of Hastings’ Bills Important to Central Washington
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on two of Hastings’ bills that improve public access in Central Washington. The Rattlesnake Mountain Public Access Act (H.R. 1157) would allow public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain located on the Hanford Reach National Monument in Benton County. The North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking Act (H.R. 1158) would allow the practice of fish stocking in North Cascades lakes to continue, a tradition that has been in place for more than a century. These bills will provide greater recreational access to the public, increase tourism, and create new fishing opportunities in Central Washington.
Send Me Your Scenic Photos of Central Washington
From the Yakima Valley to the Columbia River, Central Washington is full of beauty. That is why I would like you to send me your favorite photos of scenic Central Washington to share on my Facebook page as my cover photo. Each month I will select a picture that is sent from you to exhibit at the top of my Facebook page. This is a great way to show off the stunning images of Washington’s 4th Congressional District. Please submit your photos to email@example.com.
My current Facebook cover photo is a scenic photo of Rattlesnake Mountain, submitted by Lloyd in Richland.
Committee Approves Three Hastings’ Bills to Improve Public Access in Washington
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed three pieces of legislation authored by Hastings that would provide greater recreational access to the public, increase tourism, and create new fishing opportunities in Central Washington. The three bipartisan bills, pertaining to Rattlesnake Mountain, Stehekin Road, and North Cascades fish stocking, passed the full Committee by unanimous consent. Hastings, who chairs the Committee, reintroduced the three bills last month for the 113th Congress. All three of Hastings’ bills passed the House of Representatives with broad, bipartisan support in the 112th Congress (2011-2012). The bills are now ready for consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Bipartisan Bill to Create a Manhattan Project National Historic Park Passes Committee
Also this week, the Natural Resources Committee approved by unanimous consent H.R. 1208, the “Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act” – bipartisan legislation authored by Hastings that would establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park including facilities at Hanford. The Manhattan Project was an unprecedented top-secret program to produce an atomic bomb before Nazi Germany. The action taken by the Committee this week makes the bill eligible for consideration by the full House. “Today the Manhattan Project National Historic Park is one step closer to becoming a reality. I’m committed to bringing the bill to the House floor this Congress and working with the Senate to get it signed into law. These facilities have an important, interesting, and historic story to tell and this bill would ensure that their doors remain open to visitors for years to come,”said Hastings.
Hastings Tours Pacific Coast Canola Facility in Warden
On Monday, April 22nd, Hastings met with Matt Upmeyer at Pacific Coast Canola and toured their state-of-the-art “canola seed to canola oil” facility that recently opened in Warden. Pacific Coast Canola produces food-grade canola oil and canola meal. The Warden crusher is the first commercial-scale canola crushing operation west of the Rockies.
Hastings Meets with Members of the Northwest Public Power Association
Last Wednesday, Hastings met with members of the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) in his D.C. office. NWPPA is a not-for-profit trade association of nearly 160 public utility districts, including several in Central Washington, electric cooperatives, and municipalities in the Pacific Northwest. The NWPPA members discussed their concerns with Hastings regarding former Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s memo, which could significantly increase electricity rates on 40 million Americans. They also discussed the importance of protecting our region’s hydropower system, as well as Hastings’ bill to protect endangered Columbia River salmon and other fish species from California and Steller sea lions.
Chairman Hastings Unveils Draft Proposal to Restore Active Forest Management and Help Rural Schools & Counties
Legislative hearing scheduled for April 11th
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today unveiled a draft proposal to address the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program. The draft proposal, Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, renews the federal government’s commitment to manage forest resources for the benefit of rural schools and counties by allowing active forest management projects to take place in areas specifically identified by the U.S. Forest Service as capable of timber production.
The Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation will hold a legislative hearing on the draft bill, and others, on Thursday, April 11th 2013 at 10:00 A.M.
“The federal government made a promise over 100 years ago to actively manage our forests and provide a stable revenue stream for counties containing National Forest land. The federal government’s inability to uphold this promise and tie our forest lands up in bureaucratic red tape has left counties without sufficient funds to pay for teachers, police officers and emergency services; devastated local economies and cost thousands of jobs throughout rural America; and left our forests susceptible to deadly wildfires. Due to the lack of healthy forest management, last year 44 times as many acres of U.S. Forest land burned in wildfires than were responsibly harvested. This is unacceptable and exposes the fundamental failure of the federal government to keep our forests healthy,” said Chairman Hastings. “There are timber lands that have already been specifically identified by the Forest Service as areas capable of timber production. This draft proposal would simply cut through red tape to allow responsible timber production to occur in those areas and make the federal government uphold its commitment to rural schools and counties.”
· Specifically, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act:
o Requires that the Forest Service actively manage its commercial timber lands to produce revenues.
o Requires the Forest Service to produce at least half of the sustainable yield of timber each year and, as required by law since 1908, share 25 percent of receipts with the counties.
o Protects the environment by requiring projects to complete National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations, but streamlines the process to avoid frivolous and lengthy delays, lawsuits, and bureaucratic red tape.
o Will provide an extension of SRS payments to allow counties to transition back to payments from active forest management.
Under federal law passed in 1908, the U.S. Forest Service has historically shared 25 percent of all timber revenues with rural counties containing National Forest land to compensate them for large amounts of federal land that cannot be taxed. Since that time, these “25 percent payments” have provided counties with much-needed funding for essential services such as education and infrastructure. Yet by the late 1990s timber harvests dramatically declined due to federal overregulation and harmful lawsuits, prompting Congress in 2000 to pass the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS). SRS was created to provide “transition payments” over a six year period while Congress worked to increase timber production, or rural counties found an alternative source of revenue.
However, since the passage of SRS the federal government has failed to oversee a transition into increased timber production yet continued to provide money to these counties without ensuring the public land is properly managed. Lack of active forest management inhibits job creation, deprives counties of revenue to fund schools and roads, and makes our National Forests increasingly susceptible to wildfires and invasive species. As a result, many rural counties are suffering double-digit unemployment with little hope of creating meaningful jobs without access to common sense management of the public lands.
SRS payments were extended through fiscal year 2012. Payments to counties will decline by 80 percent next year unless Congress takes action. The Obama Administration has also notified States that it intends to retroactively subject SRS payments, which were made to counties in January based on fiscal year 2012 revenues, to the fiscal year 2013 sequester. It is requesting repayment of $17.9 million in SRS and 25 percent fund payments that have already been disbursed to States.
Washington, D.C., Mar 21 – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting endangered Columbia River salmon and other fish species from predation by California and steller sea lions. H.R. 1308, the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act would allow states and tribes to obtain permits for lethal removal of the most aggressive sea lions in order to deter predation and help protect endangered salmon as they return to spawn. Chairman Hastings is joined by bill cosponsors Reps. Greg Walden (OR-02), Michael K. Simpson (ID-02), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03).
“For years now, Northwest ratepayers have paid hundreds of millions of dollars every year on measures to protect endangered salmon migrating through our Columbia River dams, only to see a growing number fall prey to aggressive sea lions that camp out at the base of the Bonneville Dam and other places,” said Hastings. “I am pleased to once again introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure that, despite endless litigation, federal and Northwest state agencies will be permitted to work with local tribes using all available methods, including lethal removal of the most aggressive of these predators, to protect this important resource.”
In recent years sea lions have been entering the lower 205 miles of the Columbia River and around Bonneville Dam and feasting on fish. According to previous state court filings, during winter and spring months, as many as 1,000 California Sea Lions can be in the lower Columbia River, each of which consumes fifteen to thirty pounds of fish per day. Conservative estimates show that sea lions during April and May, California Sea Lions eat 12,000 to 20,000 fish throughout the Columbia River and its tributaries, which comprise a significant percentage of the overall salmon runs.
As near-record runs of salmon are returning to the Columbia River to spawn, the sea lion populations have substantially increased and are a growing threat to endangered salmon runs and other fish species. Despite dramatic population increases in recent decades, sea lions enjoy strong federal protection making it virtually impossible to control them. Scientific task forces have been convened for several years and have concluded that non-lethal removal have not been effective.
Hastings’ bill, which is identical to legislation he introduced last Congress that passed the House of Representatives in June 2012 by a bipartisan vote of 232 to 188, allows for the issuance of state and tribal permits to lethally remove increasing predatory, sea lions that consume tens of thousands of endangered salmon and other fish species in the Columbia River and their tributaries. The bill only addresses sea lions that are not listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Last year, following another round of scientific determinations by technical review teams that lethal removal authority was needed, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration authorized the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho to permanently remove California sea lions between the months of March and May. Shortly thereafter, the Humane Society of the U.S., filed a complaint and motion for an injunction to block implementation of the states’ authority to lethally remove sea lions. An Oregon federal judge denied the injunction, and in February 2013, dismissed the Humane Society’s complaint, paving the way for the state permits to proceed this year. On March 12, 2013, the Humane Society filed another appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. H.R. 1308 would stop the continual yearly litigation.
PNP comment: This is not good. We do not want to be next with 600,000 acres put in the Siskiyou Crest Monument that straddles California and Oregon border. — Editor Liz Bowen
Chairman Hastings’ Statement on President Obama’s Plan to Use Antiquities Act to Unilaterally Designate Five New National Monuments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement after President Obama announced his intentions to unilaterally designate five new National Monuments using presidential powers granted under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
“The Obama Administration not only sees the sequester as an opportunity to make automatic spending reductions as painful as possible on the American people, it’s also a good time for the President to dictate under a century-old law that the government spend money it doesn’t have on property it doesn’t even own.
President Obama has closed the White House to public tours but he’s unilaterally ordering the National Park Service to spend scarce dollars on little-known, privately-owned property in Delaware.
Over one hundred years ago the Antiquities Act was passed to allow a President to act when there was an emergency need to prevent destruction of a precious place – yet President Obama is acting on simple whim as no imminent threat of destruction or harm is posed at any of these five locations.
Several of these designations may merit preservation and be popular with some advocates in the local community, but this outdated law can be used by a President to unilaterally impose policies unwelcome and strongly opposed by local elected leaders and Governors for the economic harm caused to their small rural communities and states. Especially troubling are the inclusion of private property in these new monuments and the lack of transparency that surrounds monument designations where the White House and President work in secret and are able to thwart public review, public comment and consideration of environmental and economic impacts. The law is in need of review and reform to guarantee transparency and the approval of local communities and their elected leaders.”
Like many areas of the United States, citizens in Siskiyou County are finding government regulations are destroying their RIGHTS. This includes Water Rights, Property Rights and Individual Rights. We believe in the Constitutions of the United States and State of California that provide RIGHTS for its citizens. We also believe these RIGHTS are being systematically reduced, which is resulting in tyranny from our governments -- at all levels.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the government should serve the people!