Interior Department Funding Bill Passes the House, Rep. Stewart’s Critical Provisions Included

The Interior Department funding bill passed the House with several of Rep. Chris Stewart’s (R-Utah) provisions that are critical for Utah.

Included in the Interior Appropriations Bill, is Stewart’s amendment to block national monuments in areas where there is local opposition, and Stewart’s amendment to address the wild horse overpopulation in the west.

“I am committed to continuing to use the power of the purse and my position on the Appropriations Committee to rein in regulatory overreach at the Interior Department,” Stewart said. “This bill includes several of my amendments that are critical to Utah’s interests.”

During the debate on the bill, Stewart and a bi-partisan coalition of Members defeated an attempt by Rep. Grijalva (D-A.Z.) to remove Stewart’s national monument provision.

Specifically Rep. Stewart’s amendments do the following:

  • National Monuments, Antiquities Act Prohibition—Rep. Stewart’s amendment prohibits any new or expanded National Monument in a county where there has been significant local opposition. The provision specifically lists numerous counties across 8 states including 17 counties in Utah. Mr. Stewart’s amendment would prohibit a Bears Ears Monument Designation. 

“Using the Antiquities Act as a political weapon is bad policy and furthers the distrust that exists between Americans and the Federal government,” Stewart said.“I am a strong supporter of our country’s public lands and protecting our national treasures, but it must be done through Congress, with the input of the American people.”

  • Solution to Wild Horse Overpopulation—This bill includes Rep. Stewart’s bipartisan amendment to address the overpopulation of Wild Horses in the west. The provision begins to address the numbers problem by allowing the BLM to transfer any wild horses to any requesting federal, state or local government requesting a work animal. The provision prohibits these horses from ever being slaughtered. It was crafted with, and has the support of Democrat ranking member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Steve Israel. 

“There are more than 68,000 wild horses on the ranges, twice as many as the BLM recommends,” Stewart said. “That number is growing by 20 percent a year, and due to the overpopulation, horses are inhumanely dying of thirst and starvation. The BLM continues to take horses off the ranges, but their own numbers estimate that it will cost more than $1 Billion to care for the wild horses they already have in captivity.”

“My provision alleviates some of the overpopulation by allowing the BLM to transfer wild horses to federal, state or local governments requesting a work animal. This is a step in the right direction that will give the BLM the tools they need to begin to control the number of horses and burros in their care.”

The Interior Appropriations Bill Also Includes:

  • Healthy Forest Provisions:
    • Addressing the Bark Beetle- This bill includes provisions to make our forests healthy again by addressing forest devastation caused by the bark beetle. For far too long the BLM and the Forest Service have been constrained by onerous federal laws – laws intended to protect the environment, but are now killing our forests.
    • Fully Funds Fire Suppression- Federal regulations have made our forests a tinderbox, it’s critical that the federal government pay their rightful share in fighting fires.
  • Prevents Sage Grouse Listing– This bill includes a provision that would prevent a Sage Grouse ESA listing for 1 year and would prevent the administering of any resource management plans that are inconsistent with state sage grouse plans 
  • Stops Unnecessary and Damaging EPA Overreach:
    • EPA’s Waters of the US (WOTUS) Rule: This bill prohibits funding to be used to implement the EPA’s WOTUS rule.
    • Cuts EPA funding and Staffing Levels: This bill cuts EPA funding by $164 Million. The EPA will continue its lowest staffing levels since 1989.
  • Funds the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program­- This bill includes full funding for the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which is critical for Utah’s rural counties. Rep. Stewart has been a huge champion of this effort, leading a bipartisan letter with 80 congressmen to the House Leadership to make sure PILT was fully funded.