Senators look forward to 2015Written by Saige Albert
Washington, D.C. – In anticipation of the 114th Congress, Wyoming’s Senators John Barrasso (R) and Mike Enzi (R) are preparing for a productive year. In visiting with the Roundup, each Senator highlights their priorities for the coming year and emphasized the importance of agriculture in Wyoming.
“In Wyoming and throughout the West, ranching operations are the backbone of many of our communities,” says Barrasso. “They provide jobs and economic opportunities for so many people in rural America. Instead of rewarding America’s ranchers for their hard work and contribution, Washington continues to target them with red tape that discourages growth.”
Enzi continues, “It is vital that Congress puts agricultural policies in place that will actually benefit farmers and ranchers and not add more red tape. This session, Congress worked on common sense measures that will strengthen our country’s farming and ranching traditions.”
Over the last year, both Senators note that advancements have been made for the agriculture industry.
Enzi says that USDA’s decision to abandon efforts to create a second beef checkoff are positive, adding, “In December, Congress took action to halt the duplicative program that would have created more federal control and ultimately undermine the say producers have in administering checkoff dollars.”
“It is clear that the beef checkoff program operates best when it is run by producers and with the support of those throughout the beef industry,” he adds.
As another win in Washington, D.C., Barrasso mentions improvements in grazing legislation.
“For too long, our ranching families have been the target of anti-grazing litigation that puts their grazing permits in jeopardy. To fix this, I introduced the Grazing Improvement Act this past Congress,” he explains.
The Grazing Improvement Act allows both BLM and Forest Service to issue grazing permits while environmental analyses are pending on allotments.
Enzi adds, “The Act will also provide relief and much-needed certainty for livestock groups and businesses while speeding up the permit review process and would also help protect ranchers from expensive and time-consuming lawsuits brought by environmental groups.”
“I’m pleased to announce it was passed and signed into law in December,” Barrasso says. “By streamlining the permitting process, Wyoming’s ranching families and the local communities they support will now have the certainty and stability they need to keep their operations running strong.”
“While we’ve made great progress on grazing issues, we’re still fighting to stop the Obama Administration from moving forward with its misguided ‘Waters of the United States’ rule,” Barrasso continues.
“The Wyoming delegation continues to push back against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempts to extend the Clean Water Act further into the lives of Wyoming’s agricultural farmers and ranchers,” Enzi says.
Barrasso explains that the rule would give EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers increased authority over waters, impacting state and local waters, regardless of how remote or isolated they are.
“The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy recently broke with the Administration and reported this rule will result in a ‘direct and potentially costly impact on small businesses,’” he adds.
In an attempt to prevent the costly rule from passing, Enzi says, “In June, I was a part of a group of senators who introduced the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, a bill that would prevent the EPA from finalizing this damaging and dangerous rule.”
He mentions a positive step has been made in Congress’ repeal of the EPA interpretive rule, saying, “The effort to jam through this rule was just another example of this Administration’s attempts to circumvent the will of the people and their representatives in Congress.”
“The battle to fight this rule is not over, and I am hopeful we can continue to pursue undoing this EPA proposal in the new Congress,” Enzi adds.
In the year ahead
Both Senators comment that 2015 brings opportunity for Congress, and they will be working hard for Wyoming agriculture.
“As we head into the 114th Congress, I will be working toward common sense and bipartisan solutions to the most pressing issues that our nation faces, beginning with President Obama’s unilateral actions over immigration reform,” Enzi comments. “By issuing the executive order, he acted outside of his authority and circumvented Congress. I have always opposed amnesty and will continue to do so.”
Enzi further notes that he is looking forward to serving as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee in 2015, mentioning that the committee is vital to controlling spending and limiting federal government overreach.
“I will continue to find ways to grow the economy and shrink the government. We are facing a critical moment economically,” he says. “We need to balance the budget and start paying down America’s $18 trillion debt.”
Barrasso comments, “Wyoming cannot afford more Washington red tape that limits small business owners and homeowners from making local land and water use decisions. In 2015, I’ll make it a priority to pursue every legislative opportunity possible to stop this destructive proposal for good.”
Senator Mike Enzi comments, “Unfortunately, Wyoming is no stranger to the federal government overreach.”
Specifically, Enzi mentions that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has proven to be onerous and needs to be fixed.
“In September, a Washington D.C. federal judge reinstated protection for the gray wolf in Wyoming under the ESA,” he says. “It’s clear the ESA has been abused by groups and used as an instrument to bring lawsuits against the state and beat down state management plans that have been effective solutions to this problem.”
Enzi continues, “The Wyoming delegation will continue its commitment to fight for Wyoming’s right to manage its own wildlife and lands.”