Today, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) is holding a hearing of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, entitled “The President’s Imposition of New Environmental Mitigation Regulations.” The hearing is a direct response to DOI and BLM’s decision not to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act last fall, and is likely to contain a lot of unwarranted negative rhetoric from Rep. Bishop about the unprecedented collaborative conservation plans for the sage grouse and its habitat.
Specifically, the hearing will take aim at the presidential memorandum from last November on mitigation that is now being applied to the sage-grouse land management plans. In light of this memo, Rep. Bishop has made some statements about mitigation that are simply false, including calling them “oppressive” and dogmatic. His statements mischaracterize the practice of mitigation, and ignore the history of this practice and its success at mitigating the impacts of development on our public lands.
Contrary to Rep. Bishop’s rhetoric, the presidential memorandum seeks to expand and leverage private sector investments within mitigation—not stifle them. The memo works to establish a smart process that identifies mitigation requirements up front, and prioritizes mitigation investments.
Additionally, the memorandum adds needed certainty for developers, efficiency in the permitting processes, and improvements in conservation outcomes from mitigation. As we’ve seen in the sage-grouse plans, mitigation has allowed ranchers and other stakeholders to form a private-public partnership with the U.S. government to ensure that the mitigation happening not only benefits the wellbeing of our public lands, but also the Westerners who depend on them. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.
Sadly, it’s clear that today’s hearing is part of an ongoing witch-hunt by Rep. Bishop to attack the sage-grouse plans, and to belittle this real progress and collaboration on the ground in the West that allowed the plans’ formation. Westerners deserve better.