2017 House Interior Appropriations Bill Advances
May 27, 2016

The House Appropriations Committee Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee advanced a $32.095 billion interior and environment appropriations bill on Wednesday. The subcommittee moved the measure forward by voice vote.

The measure provides $64 million less than the 2016 enacted level and $1 billion less than President Obama requested, according to the committee's statement on the bill. In addition, the legislation contains policy provisions to stop bureaucratic regulatory overreach that harms U.S. industries and hinders economic and job growth.

A few of the sheep-industry relevant provisions of the bill include:
  • The bill rejects a White House proposal to raise fees on American ranchers for grazing on federal land.
  • An increase of $12 million above the fiscal year 2016 level is provided for on-the-ground sage grouse conservation to protect the species and to preserve federal lands for public and private uses, such as energy development, ranching, recreation and military training.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is funded at $1.5 billion, a $17 million decrease below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. Within this amount, the legislation prioritizes funding to reduce the endangered species delisting backlog and maintenance backlog, to fight invasive species and to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking. The bill also continues a one-year delay on any further Endangered Species Act status reviews, determinations and rulemakings for the greater sage-grouse.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency's Waters of the United States is defunded in this legislation.
A statement by Public Lands Council President Brenda Richards says: "Public lands ranchers were pleased to see several of our priorities addressed in the FY 2017 Interior spending bill. The bill maintains the one-year delay on further rulemaking or listing of the Greater Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act and blocks the president's proposed administrative fee on top of the grazing fee that was already raised by 25 percent earlier this year.

"While these go a long way to meet the needs of the West, we were greatly disappointed to see that the bill did not include the broad bi-partisan language reining in the president's abuse of the Antiquities Act."