Simpson Questions Secretary Salazar on Wild Lands Policy
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, questioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding domestic oil production, the cost of environmental litigation, and the Secretary’s controversial “Wild Lands” initiative. The oversight hearing gave Chairman Simpson and other members of the subcommittee the opportunity to examine the President’s FY2012 budget request for the Department of the Interior.
Simpson again expressed deep concern about the Obama Administration’s Wild Lands initiative. “It’s no secret that Western Members of both parties—including myself—have very strong objections to your Wild Lands Secretarial Order granting the BLM the authority to identify and manage lands in the West as wilderness,” said Chairman Simpson. “Only Congress has the authority to designate wilderness, and I can guarantee you that any subcommittee bill this year will include a funding prohibition relating to the Wild Lands policy, whether it is included in the underlying bill or added on the floor with an amendment.”
Simpson included language in the recently-passed continuing resolution prohibiting the Department from using funding to implement the Wild Lands policy. “You say that this is intended to reduce the number of lawsuits you face, but I’m afraid it’s only going to increase lawsuits,” he argued. “We are already spending far too much taxpayer money in courts, money that we should be spending managing these lands so that they can be enjoyed by the public.”
During the hearing, Secretary Salazar also addressed questions regarding efforts to recover the Rocky Mountain wolf population. He stated that it is the Department’s view that the Rocky Mountain wolf species has been recovered, and he commended Simpson’s efforts to return management of the species to states like Idaho with approved management plans.
Following the hearing with Secretary Salazar, Chairman Simpson has scheduled oversight hearings with agency heads at the Department. Tomorrow the subcommittee will examine the budget request for the National Park Service, and Thursday both the BLM Director and the Director of the Office of Surface Mining will testify before the subcommittee.
To watch videos of Chairman Simpson at the hearing, visit his YouTube website.