What is the Grazing Improvement Act?
Each year for more than a decade, because of a burdensome, backlogged regulatory process, ranchers who hold public lands grazing permits have faced the risk of losing those permits. A series of unfortunate court decisions now require that analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) be done on grazing allotments every 10 years to renew permits. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have been unable to keep up with the workload. Meanwhile, environmental extremists file a constant stream of process-based lawsuits, partially funded by taxpayer dollars. They take advantage of already-strained resources to litigate missed deadlines and incomplete paperwork. By further tying up agency resources, they create a vicious cycle of litigation.
The Grazing Improvement Act (H.R. 657 and S. 258) seeks to reduce this uncertainty for producers and save tax dollars in the process. It would codify appropriations language producers depend on in each spending bill, language allowing grazing to continue despite the NEPA backlog. It also provides increased efficiency by extending the life of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years and giving agencies the option of categorically excluding permits from NEPA review. Simple permit transfers and customary trailing and crossing of livestock would also be NEPA-exempt.
Passing the Grazing Improvement Act would mean greater stability for the livestock industry, a renewed focus on long-term resource management, enhanced agency efficiency and flexibility, and continuation of the broad public benefits provided by grazing on both public and private lands in the West.
What is the latest in Washington?Last congressional session, GIA passed the House of Representatives. This session, both the House and Senate have held hearings on the bill, introduced in the House by Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and in the Senate by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). See our witness' written testimony on H.R. 657 , watch her testify online, and read our press release on the House hearing; read our witness' written testimony on S. 258 and our letter of support for the Senate hearing.
What can YOU do?
We ask that you urge your Senators--especially those on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee--to push for a markup of S. 258. Want to share information about the Grazing Improvement Act with your congressmen? Here is a printable one-page information sheet!