Bishop: Congress Must Reassert Itself

The Washington Examiner interviews Rep. Rob Bishop about his efforts to reassert the power of the legislative branch over the executive when it comes to public lands and energy policy. Bishop believes such a corrective is necessary given the way the last three Democratic presidents have abused their authority under the Antiquities Act to unilaterally create new national monuments in the face of local opposition.

Reports Kyle Feldscher:

Nearing the end of his second year as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop has become known on Capitol Hill for his dry wit and pressing lawmakers to tackle challenges that might not be well-known in Washington.

For instance, many residents of states east of the Rocky Mountains might not be overly concerned with the Antiquities Act.

But, Bishop, nearing the end of his seventh term, has become one of the Obama administration’s biggest critics on how it places land under federal protection, especially in the wake of huge swaths of land and ocean being placed under federal protection in Maine and off the coast of Hawaii last month, and a new marine monument off the coast of Massachusetts just last week.

Bishop’s plan is to re-assert the power of the legislative branch over the executive.

“Making a monument is not an executive branch function. I think these monuments show how invasive it is,” Bishop said. “The Antiquities Act was supposed to be about an antiquity. A fish off the coast of Hawaii is not an antiquity. Trees in Maine are not an antiquity.”

With just a few weeks left in the 114th Congress, the 65-year-old Utahn is a key figure in the negotiations over a comprehensive energy bill being hashed out in conference committee.

But the end of this session could leave a few of his goals unaccomplished. While Bishop wants to include legislation changing how the U.S. Forest Service works to prevent wildfires in the energy bill, he said he’s going to push hard to get some reforms through Congress before next year’s wildfire season.

He also has an ambitious plan re-organizing how federal lands in eastern Utah are managed that he believes would cut down on litigation costs and make life simpler for businesses and recreation enthusiasts alike.