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Boebert touts legislative wins that Biden vows to veto

Bills, amendments and funding requests pass House
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing Feb. 8 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press file)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert is touting the addition of 26 legislative priorities she worked into a House Interior Appropriations bill.

The bill contains several controversial pieces of Boebert-backed legislation, including provisions of the “Trust the Science Act,” which would strip Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf. It would also undermine several Bureau of Land Management rule-making processes relating to oil and gas extraction.

The funding bill passed the House on Nov. 3 largely along party lines. One Democrat, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, crossed party lines and supported the bill.

H.R. 4821 would fund the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department and similar agencies to the tune of $25.4 billion – a dramatic 35% funding cut from last year. Key components of the bill include the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program, Tribes and Wildland Fire Management, rescinding funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and providing funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

It faces stiff opposition from Democrats, including President Joe Biden, who has threatened to veto the bill if it lands on his desk.

Boebert passed eight amendments, two bills, two community project requests and 14 appropriations requests. Her legislation focuses on water, energy and natural resources that will benefit western Colorado and are some of her office’s top priorities, the congresswoman said in an interview last week with The Durango Herald.

Here is a breakdown of some of Boebert’s most notable pieces of legislation that passed the House:

  • Amendments 18 and 19 provide funding for wildfire management and hazardous fuels.

Amendment 18 provides $5 million in funding for the U.S. Forest Service’s active forest management to prevent wildfires and related damages. Boebert said the money would be transferred from “federal bureaucrats” to fund the effort.

The amendment seeks to implement preventive measures such as clearing dead timber and thinning forests.

Taking proactive measures helps to prevent catastrophic fires, Boebert said in an interview.

“We have many resources to prevent wildfires, but most of them that have come out in recent years are more for wildfire response rather than preventive maintenance,” she said.

Boebert’s 19th amendment provides $5 million to the BLM for hazardous fuels reduction activities and proactive prevention of wildfires on public lands. Again, she says the money will be transferred from “federal bureaucracy.”

The amendment would help to reduce dead trees in the West that significantly increase the risk of large wildfires.

  • Amendment 39 seeks to prevent the Biden administration from finalizing, implementing or enforcing rules that “undermine” or “rescind” the Trump administration’s rule changes to the Endangered Species Act.

The Trump administration reversed a rule extending the same protections to threatened species as endangered species. Now the Biden administration seeks to reverse that, but Boebert’s amendment would prevent the Biden administration from allowing that to happen.

Boebert also worked the “Trust the Science Act,” previously introduced to the House as H.R. 764. The law would undermine the FWS’ authority by mandating the Secretary of the Interior roll back the gray wolf’s endangered species protections and reinstate a Trump-era rule delisting the species.

“We can no longer put farmers and ranchers in harm’s way by using tax dollars to protect a species that has been fully recovered and that is destroying their livestock,” she told the Herald. “Our farmers and ranchers do not want gray wolves in their areas because they know the devastation that it causes.”

In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the gray wolf as a federally endangered species. In February 2022, those same protections under the Endangered Species Act were reinstated.

  • Language in an appropriations bill would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from listing the greater sage-grouse as a threatened or endangered species in the Columbian Basin in Washington state and the Bi-State distinct population that straddles the border between Nevada and California.
  • Amendments 40 and 41 are peremptory measures to prohibit the BLM from finalizing a controversial resource management plan to end new oil and gas leases on 1.6 million acres in Colorado and prevent a proposed rule on fluid mineral leases and leasing processes.

The fluid mineral leases and leasing process rule proposed by the BLM would change fees, rents and royalties to reflect provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act. Boebert, alongside 10 other representatives, introduced the Restoring American Energy Dominance Act to prevent implementation of the rule.

“The proposed rule also increases bonding fee requirements,” Boebert said. “These additional fees will ultimately harm returns and reduce revenues to the state and local governments by disincentivizing development on federal lands.”

  • Multiple water-related appropriations requests that would directly benefit towns in Colorado.

Gunnison and Silt would each receive $1.5 million for their water treatment plant projects. Boebert said additional funding for these projects was requested by the towns. Earlier this year, Boebert had voiced opposition to designated funding for projects such as those required.

Funding for the projects is in addition to other water-related requests made by Boebert, who said water is a top priority for her office.

“I was able to secure $5 million in funding to begin construction on the Wolf Creek Reservoir,” Boebert said. “This allows us to store more of our water in Colorado and ultimately help with times of drought, and help with our water resiliency.

“That’s why most of the amendments that you see, or the congressionally directed spending requests that were submitted and approved, have to do with water,” she said.

  • Other amendments and legislative priorities passed included providing $1.5 million in funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for dirt school bus routes, which Boebert said would directly assist the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.
  • Other appropriations requests include more than $28.7 million for the irrigation project fund at the BIA.
  • Boebert also passed an appropriation request that fully funds the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program that she said will provide millions of dollars to Colorado counties.

Although passage of the appropriations bill is critical – it is one of 12 spending measures that must be passed to fund the federal government next year – Democrats say it has no future given the full slate of Republican-backed amendments.

In an Oct. 30 statement, the White House said Biden would veto the bill if presented to his desk.

Congress has until Nov. 17 to either pass the necessary 12 spending bills or a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown.

Weslan Hansen is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at whansen@durangoherald.com.

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