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Health, Science & Environment

Western Governors Complain to Congress About Federal Environmental Oversight

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House Natural Resources Committee YouTube Channel
Governor Gary Herbert testified Wednesday before the House Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a fellow Utah Republican.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert used a congressional hearing Wednesday to drive home his top message as chairman of the National Governors Association: States govern better.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, hosted the oversight hearing on respecting state authority in managing resources and developing energy.

“Simply stated, states are better positioned to understand their own unique resources, geography and population than the federal government,” said Herbert, the first witness Wednesday.

He and two other western Republican governors complained about virtually every area of federal environmental oversight. They criticized gray wolf protections in South Dakota, fracking controls in Wyoming and new regulations to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from power plants. Herbert said it’s illogical for the EPA to limit power from coal because it will do so little to reduce global warming.

“I think that’s foolish,” he told the committee.” So the cost to benefit’s certainly got to be factored into anything we do when it comes to carbon capture or charging for the carbon that we’re burning.”

Only Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana described productive relationships with Obama administration officials.

Meanwhile, Bishop singled out the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in the Gold King Mine spill and the Interior Department’s new rules to protect the greater sage grouse as examples of why states should have greater autonomy.

“After all,” Bishop said, “I just refuse to accept the notion that the West has to be protected from itself.”

The Utah lawmaker pledged to work in Congress to give governors more power to find environmental solutions within their borders. 

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