Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Labrador's Grazing Improvement Act Passes House

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Idaho First District Congressman Raúl Labrador’s Grazing Improvement Act of 2012 passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 232-188.  The bill was included in a jobs and public lands package, H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, designed to create new jobs, grow the economy and protect the environment.

Commenting on the vote, Congressman Labrador said:  “My bill will help ranchers in Idaho and across America who are increasingly burdened with red tape by providing them a streamlined permitting process to help them access public lands.  If enacted, my bill will preserve ranching jobs, give ranchers better economic security and also offer relief to federal land managers who battle a growing backlog of pending permits, largely delayed due to endless litigation often generated by radical environmental groups totally opposed to any grazing at all.  The Bureau of Land Management itself estimates that more than 4,200 grazing permits are backlogged waiting for renewal.  This is an unacceptable number of backlogged permits, all of which negatively affect America’s livestock producers.”

The Grazing Improvement Act of 2012 would:
  • Extend Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service livestock grazing permits from 10 years to 20 years in order to give producers adequate longevity and production stability;
  • Codify appropriation rider language to require expired grazing permits to be extended under existing terms and conditions until the renewal process is complete;
  • Encourage the respective Secretaries to utilize categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to expedite permit processing; and
  • Allow trailing permits to be categorically excluded from NEPA.
“I would like to thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle that have voted for my bill as part of an overall package of bills all designed to help preserve or create jobs by reducing federal regulations which will ultimately improve the economy while acting in an environmentally responsible manner,” concluded Congressman Labrador.

Brenda Richards, Owyhee County, Idaho rancher and member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said of the bill:  “I and other public lands ranchers across the West commend Representative Labrador and the bipartisan majority in Congress for standing with ranchers to pass the Grazing Improvement Act. This is a major step forward for an industry reliant upon the efficient and wise management of lands by federal agencies.  This legislation provides the economic security needed for the public lands grazing industry.”

This is Congressman Labrador’s second bill to pass the House this Congress.  His Exploring for Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act (H.R. 2171) passed with a bipartisan majority of 244 to 176 in February of this year.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate for its consideration.

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