This Week in Washington

by Public Lands Council
PLC Affiliate testifies in Senate Committee 
Executive Vice President of North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) Julie Ellingson testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power on the drought crisis conditions across the West. Ellingson drew on her experience on her family’s ranch as well as her leadership in NDSA to explain the impact and long-term consequences that severe weather conditions have on ranchers whose work is critical in achieving environmental stewardship goals.

The Public Lands Council (PLC) has long advocated for tools that enhance the resiliency of federal lands and the ranchers who conserve them, including support for drought relief programs, federal grazing permits, and responsible management of threats to that resiliency, like invasive species and overstocked horses and burros. 
Watch a key section of Julie’s testimony here.

Bears Ears, again: Biden administration expands Utah monuments
On Friday, President Biden announced he was re-expanding 3 national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah. The move is a reversal of a decision by President Trump, who reduced the size of the monuments in 2017 after President Obama expanded the monuments in 2016. 
Here’s what you need to know: the re-expanded monuments will now cover 3.23 million acres and 4,900 square horizontal miles underwater. 

We will continue to work with Utah producers, the Utah delegation, and affected interests to ensure that the management of these areas recognizes grazing as an asset and tool to achieve conservation.
Read our full position here

Congress acts on debt ceiling
After Congress passed a stopgap measure to keep the Federal Government funded into December, they turned their attention to ensuring the U.S. didn’t default on its debt. Late in the week, the Senate approved a measure that would extend the decision until December 3, making that Friday the deadline for approving the budget and deciding upon the debt ceiling. The House is expected to vote next week.  
This story from the New York Times explains the situation in detail.

Biden administration to revise NEPA
Yesterday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced they will be revisiting the government-wide guidance on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) issued during the Trump Administration. CEQ has proposed a two-phase revision:Phase One would return NEPA to pre-2020 standards and implementation.Phase Two will be a broader NEPA reconsideration related to environmental justice, public involvement, and consistency across agencies. PLC worked with the Trump Administration to streamline NEPA and ensure the process wasn’t a hindrance to the important work livestock producers do to safeguard our natural resources. We have met several times with CEQ under the Biden Administration sending the same message. The 45-day public comment period will close on November 21, and you can submit comments via the PLC comment portal

Congressional Western Caucus on Conservation – 30X30
Earlier this week, Congressional Western Caucus Members from across the United States introduced the Western Conservation Principles report to continue promoting effective, locally-led, and voluntary conservation efforts already utilized throughout rural communities.

The Principles report responds to the administration’s “America the Beautiful” campaign, which seeks to conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. The report outlines the need for outcome-based conservation practices, from public-private partnerships and active forest management to responsible energy development and habitat restoration, while highlighting the importance of preserving private property rights. Members also advocate for commonsense reforms to lessen regulatory burdens and curb unending cycles of frivolous litigation. PLC supports these approaches and thanks the Caucus for their approach to conservation. 

Follow this link to view their proposal.

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