A rundown on the anti-wildlife, pro livestock things sneaked into the new U.S. budget just signed into law-

By now, everyone has heard about yesterday’s passage of a $1.1 trillion budget bill. But it’s unlikely that many people have heard about anti-wildlife, pro-grazing details that are hiding there. Special interests always seem to get their way sneaking some things into gigantic bills that are voted up or down as a whole like this budget.

As usual, Congress has exempted the public lands management agencies from various kinds of National Policy Act (NEPA) compliance. Though many potentially terrible provisions were stripped from the House version of the bill, the version on Obama’s desk today contains the following handouts to the livestock industry:

  • Sec. 122 requires the “exhaustion of administrative review” prior to initiation of federal lawsuits
  • Sec. 125 provides for agency discretion in conducting environmental analysis for the trailing of livestock on public lands, in 2014 and 2015.
  • Sec. 411 allows for expiring grazing permits to be exempted from environmental review prior to their renewal through 2015.
  • Sec. 420 prohibits the use of funds for any rulemaking relating to carbon dioxide, water vapor, or methane emissions resulting from livestock production.
  • Sec. 431 eliminates the requirement to provide notice and accept comments or consider administrative appeals on projects that are categorically excluded from NEPA review.

The budget allocates $52,338,000 for wildlife management, including $15 million for sage-grouse, but specifies that Congress supports state sage-grouse plans to prevent Endangered Species Act designation and protection. It also provides $1 million to compensate livestock operators for livestock losses due to wolf predation.

The bill also contains a direction to the agencies to make vacant allotments available as grassbanks “to the greatest extent possible,” and a direction for the BLM to collaborate with other federal agencies on research involving the risk of disease transmission between domestic and bighorn sheep. And finally, the bill directs BLM to convene a meeting with ranchers in the California Desert Conservation Area to work out the details of a grazing mitigation program.

Why does federal legislation directed the agencies never pay as much attention to wildlife issues and conservationists as it does to ranchers?

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

3 Responses to Pork, Beef, and Mutton in the new Federal Budget

  1. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Where does all the lamb meat get marketed that is raised on BLM and USFS grazing allotments? I can’t find any lamb in the meat markets in western Oregon that isn’t imported.

    Likewise where does all the subsidized wool go?

  2. avatar ramses09 says:

    Sad – just plain sad. Does anyone really think that any of those politicians read any of the budget? They read what they want to read, more over they are only concerned with themselves & money …. not wildlife & environment issues.
    They need to be voted out if we want change.

  3. avatar mandy says:

    If we would all just eat less meat (I’m a carnivore) and make that personal choice (or sacrifice, in my case lol), we would be speaking with our wallets, which is the only thing ranchers and government officials seem to listen to anymore.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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