Congressman

Cynthia Lummis

Representing Wyoming

Wyoming Expert Questions Legal Authority For Blueways At Resources Hearing

Secretary Jewell hits "pause" on Blueways Order, Rep. Lummis calls for full withdrawal.

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Washington, Jul 17, 2013 | Christine D'Amico ((202) 225-2311) | comments
Wednesday U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) welcomed Cheyenne attorney and legal expert Karen Budd-Falen, who testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power in opposition to the controversial National Blueways Program, a bureaucratic invention to federally-designate entire river watersheds. Mrs. Budd-Falen testified that the Department of the Interior has exceeded its legal authority by unilaterally creating the authority for such sweeping land and water designations. This supplemented an April 24th hearing in which Rep. Lummis and Shoshone Conservation District Supervisor Russell Board helped expose the National Blueways Program’s potential to undermine private property rights, state primacy over water law, and local conservation efforts. The hearing also revealed efforts by the Department of the Interior to designate the Yellowstone River Watershed without any consultation with Wyoming officials and water users.
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Wednesday U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) welcomed Cheyenne attorney and legal expert Karen Budd-Falen, who testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power in opposition to the controversial National Blueways Program, a bureaucratic invention to federally-designate entire river watersheds.  Mrs. Budd-Falen testified that the Department of the Interior has exceeded its legal authority by unilaterally creating the authority for such sweeping land and water designations.  This supplemented an April 24th hearing in which Rep. Lummis and Shoshone Conservation District Supervisor Russell Boardman helped expose the National Blueways Program’s potential to undermine private property rights, state primacy over water law, and local conservation efforts.  The hearing also revealed efforts by the Department of the Interior to designate the Yellowstone River Watershed without any consultation with Wyoming officials and water users.

Despite previous calls from the Congressional Western Caucus for the Department of the Interior to withdraw the Blueways Order, the order remains in effect.  New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has instead elected to “pause” enforcement of the Order to better educate herself on the program.  

“The National Blueways Program has smelled fishy ever since I learned of Interior’s desire to slap this designation on the Yellowstone River,” said Rep. Lummis.  “That’s 22 million acres of Wyoming under a mysterious new federal designation and not a single consultation with Wyoming officials or water users—not a one.  It’s been almost three months since we exposed the order’s complete lack of transparency at a congressional hearing, and Secretary Jewell has already been forced to revoke the White River designation in Missouri and Arkansas do to overwhelming public opposition.  That Secretary Jewell refuses to withdraw the Order is unacceptable, as is her refusal to comply with the ongoing congressional investigation into how this potentially illegal program ever saw the light of day.  There is no fixing this broken program, which came unilaterally, which bucks any semblance of public process, and which needs to be eliminated from Interior’s playbook.  If Interior wants to create a new federal river or land designation, they need to come to Congress and not simply invent it themselves. In the meantime, it’s time to sink the Blueways Order.  I want to thank Karen Budd-Falen for taking the time out of her schedule to educate my congressional colleagues of the numerous legal and practical pitfalls inherent in the Blueways program.”

“The question before this Subcommittee should be whether Congress has enacted a statute which would grant to the DOI the authority to create the National Blueways Initiative,” said Budd-Falen. “A review of the statutes cited in Executive Order 3321 shows that the answer is ‘No’.”

 

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