© 2016 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
Why is it that five minutes after an elected Montanan sets foot in Washington DC, Montana values, the Constitution and the people they represent are long forgotten?
We recently reported to you that our Congressional delegation was “Playing with Fire” with bills they have sponsored or currently support that could very likely be detrimental to Montana, and to all western states that have significant amounts of United States Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands located within their boundaries.
Sadly in just a few short days, we have also learned that our congressional delegation has not only been playing with fire, but Daines’ office, when being queried about his own bill, withheld information about other bills that Congress has already voted to ratify or are prepared to ratify that serve to accomplish the same objective. We have to assume this omission was intentional because in April Daines already voted to ratify one of them. S 2012 sponsored by Lisa Murkowski out of Alaska, passed in both the Senate and the House and will soon make its way to Obama’s desk for signature.
These four bills (and possibly more) appear to be related to a larger strategy related to the management of our Public Lands:
S. 2012 North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016
Status: Passed Senate 04/16 and House 05/16 – Daines, Zinke and Tester all voted for it
S. 3014 Tribal Forestry Participation and Protection Act of 2016
Status: Introduced to Senate and hearings held 06/16
S. 3085 Emergency Wildfire and Forest Management Act of 2016
Status: Introduced to Senate 06/16
H.R. 2647 Emergency Wildfire and Forest Management Act of 2016
Co-Sponsors – 14 including Ryan Zinke
Status: Passed House 07/15
The attached table includes links to each of these bills and the language in them serves to expand tribal control and jurisdiction over our Public Lands, as well as Washington’s inappropriate use of a 638 contract for the purpose of managing these lands.
The Farce of Representation in Washington
FAILURE TO FIX THE PROBLEM DOES LITTLE MORE THAN CREATE A NEW ONE
When asked about S.3014, Senator Daines’ staff conveyed that this was part of a larger strategy related to our Forest Service lands in an attempt to work around environmentalist obstructions to the management of public lands.
Because TRIBEs are exempt from the same laws as the rest of us, including the ability to be sued, legislators believe this is a work around to all of the lawsuits that impede responsible management of our forest lands. To this we have a few questions:
- Why not FIX THE ACTUAL PROBLEM of frivolous environmental lawsuits rather than trying to work around it by getting into bed with the tribes and CREATING A NEW PROBLEM? For starters, how about removing federal judges who align with environmentalists for their “bad or unconstitutional behavior” or looking at the Equal Access to Justice Act that funds many of these lawsuits?
- Speaking of getting into bed with tribes, has Senator Daines paid attention to what happened in Browning?
- Why are tribes exempt from any laws that the rest of us are subject to? Perhaps Daines should be looking at this RULE OF LAW FAILURE instead of focusing on yet one more expansion of federal and tribal overreach.
While we are unable to determine the complete strategy of these separate bills, it seems that each one of them brings a little something to the table. By trying to “outsmart” the power brokers and well-funded environmentalists in DC, the consequences of their brilliant scheme will place more shackles on citizens living in the western United States, and pave the way for further, and even more creative overreach in the future.
NOT TO WORRY, WE’LL REMOVE THE OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE FROM THE BILL
One constituent was told that Daines would remove the offensive language in the bill, not to worry. Unfortunately these staffers failed to mention that the Murkowski legislation had already been passed in both houses with essentially the same language in it.
NOT TO WORRY, WE’RE GIVING THE STATES THE SAME OPPORTUNITY AS THE TRIBES
His office also told at least one constituent that he has co-sponsored a bill that would give the same opportunity to the states. Remember that currently these federal lands are unconstitutionally held and managed by the federal government, and were originally intended belong to the states.
We looked up that bill S. 3310 sponsored by Amy Klobuchar and co-sponsored by Steve Daines named the Environmental and Economic Benefits Restoration Act of 2016.
Unfortunately for Daines, S.3310 doesn’t come close to allowing states to manage public lands located within their boundaries. It instead “establishes a landscape-scale restoration program to support landscape-scale restoration and management that results in measurable improvements to public benefits derived from State and private forest land.”
Hmmmmm…. let’s see if we get this right:
The Tribes are able to contract to manage our public lands, public lands meant to be enjoyed by all citizens, and will reap the benefits thereof. If Daines has his way, the States will be “allowed” by the federal government to landscape State and Private forest land.
If this is not an assault on the efforts of the American Lands Council to restore federal lands back to the states, we don’t know what is.
One thing we know for certain. Once tribes are given this huge overreach, it will be impossible for the states to ever have those lands restored to them because taxpayer funds will be used for tribal lawsuits to prevent it every step of the way.
We cannot help but think that subverting any restoration of public lands to the states is the desired outcome of these bills. After all, Steve Daines, Jon Tester, and Ryan Zinke are all on record as opposing state management of “public lands ” that rightfully belong to the states. And not one of them have given us any good reason to think otherwise.
THE BIGGEST LIE OF ALL, THE LITTLE PEOPLE DESERVE A SAY
Today a friend forwarded an email from Steve Daines touting that “Montanans deserve a say” in National Monument Designations.
Was this communication a reaction to his utter disregard for these same “Montanans” when he voted to ratify Senator Murkowski’s Bill S.2012, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016?
Or does his correspondence instead serve to deflect from S. 3014 and other legislation that has his fingerprints on it?
Who in Montana was told about the hearings on S.3014 or S.2012? Anyone? Were the tribe’s afforded the opportunity to testify?
What about due diligence? Did Daines even bother to contact any of the 11 county governments in western Montana to discuss the jurisdictional or economic impacts his bill S.3014 could have on them? Some of these counties have more than 80% forest service lands within their boundaries.
The water compact essentially ceded western Montana to the United States / CSKT. Because our “so called representatives” have failed to consider the implications of these bills, it is incumbent upon citizens to study the practical result of each of them in combination with the compact itself. In other words, what will these “forest service protection” bills sow in terms of further cessions of jurisdiction, control and financial benefits to one class of citizens to the detriment of others?
Republicans that sponsor or vote to ratify bills such as these are a far greater danger to our country than Democrats who do so. Why? Because the public at least generally knows where democrats fall on the scale of tyranny.
Unfortunately the public incorrectly believes that republicans stand strong for smaller government and private property rights as well as the rule of law. Montana “Republicans” supporting such legislation serve to undermine our Constitution and to advance an agenda that expands federal government overreach with most folks being none the wiser.
Mr. Daines, Murkowski and others seem to think they are smarter than the rest of us, and therefore know what is better for us than we do. This is exactly why our country is in the shape it is in.
WHERE DOES GIANFORTE STAND?
While we have not reached out to them yet, we cannot help but wonder what Representative Ryan Zinke, currently running for a second term in Washington against Denise Juneau might have to say about his vote on HR 2647?
We are fairly certain that Governor Bullock supports this effort to expand tribal control and jurisdiction over our public lands. What we don’t know, is what Greg Gianforte, Bullock’s challenger in the upcoming election thinks about Daines’ plans for our country’s Forest Service and BLM Lands.
We think it is time that the citizens of Montana to get some answers, and to let our congressional delegation know what we think of their ill conceived and poorly thought out plan.
Let them know how you feel about all of these bills and their companion CSKT Compact bill S. 3013 as well as Congressman Zinke’s blind support of the definition of Indian forest lands in H. 2647 and S. 3014!
Senator Steve Daines: (202) 224-2651
Senator Jon Tester: (202) 224-2644
Congressman Ryan Zinke: (202) 225-3211
While you’re at it, it’s a good time to find out where the candidates coming up for election stand too:
The Gianforte campaign can be reached at: (406) 686-3886