Wyo women look at federal impacts
Casper – During the 22nd Wyoming Women’s Ag Symposium, nearly 100 ladies from around the region gathered in Casper, where they started the event with a presentation by Karen Budd-Falen, Cheyenne attorney, on the impacts of federal government actions on the state.
“I am completely thrilled about the outcome of the election,” Budd-Falen said during the Nov. 10 event. “I think Hillary would have been the death of the livestock industry. But this is not a time for us to think that Washington will take care of us.”
She continued, “We have a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican President, but during the Reagan Administration, we did, too.”
Budd-Falen noted that with Jim Watt as Secretary of the Interior, the industry thought they could just sit back and relax, working at home on the ranch and ignoring Washington, D.C.
“But if we look at what the environmentalists did when Barack Obama was president, they filed more litigation against Barack Obama than they did against both George Bush’s combined,” she said. “They looked at it and thought they could get regulations and programs through.”
To continue to advance the livestock industry, Budd-Falen said now, as much as ever, the livestock industry must work in Washington, D.C. to push its agenda through.
“I am here to tell the livestock industry and here to tell women in agriculture that now is really the time to push on government to roll back some of the things that Bruce Babbitt did to us when Clinton was president all those years ago,” she commented.
America’s Great Outdoors
As a prime example of action enacted by the power of the pen through Executive and Secretarial Orders, Budd-Falen cited a project called America’s Great Outdoors.
“Obama put together this program called America’s Great Outdoors, but the only public comment he took was from college campuses,” she said. “Going around to a bunch of college campuses and asking college kids how they want to run public lands in Wyoming is a really bad plan.”
Out of the program, one policy that came through was the wildlands policy.
“The wildlands policy was created out of thin air through listening sessions on college campuses. They were able to create more wilderness without ever going through Congress,” she explained.
Secretaries of the Interior were confronted and told they had no authority to create wildlands through secretarial order, so they withdrew the wildlands order, instead writing nearly identical policies into regulations and handbooks.
“They just did it anyway,” Budd-Falen said. “One of the things we should push on is to get rid of provisions in the manuals and handbooks that don’t have any rule of law behind them. The federal government shouldn’t be able to make programs up as they please.”
Another program from America’s Great Outdoors was the National Blueways Program.
“The National Blueways Program is another one of my favorite Executive Orders,” she said. “That program was one where the Department of the Interior took entire watersheds and federalized them.”
The first designated water was the Connecticut River, which took in four or five eastern states without input from local governments. Then, Department of the Interior attempted to do the same thing on the White River in Arkansas.
“The Governor of Arkansas came to Congress and testified, saying that they had no legal authority to create this thing,” Budd-Falen explained. “Then, they tried to designate the Yellowstone River, over 56 million acres that would have fallen into that area.”
However, the Department of the Interior encountered fierce pushback, and they withdrew the designation.
In addition to the National Blueways Program, Budd-Falen said that one of the most horrible things done by the Obama Administration is related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“ESA was not meant to protect every bug, mouse and snake on the planet,” Budd-Falen commented. “When Richard Nixon signed the Act, there were 11 original species they sought to protect, and they were big, cool species like the American crocodile, the grizzly bear and Bald eagle.”
However, today, 2,258 plants and animals are on the ESA, with 633 of those in foreign countries.
In February 2016, the Obama Administration made several changes to the ESA that impact landowners.
“Critical habitat, under the Act, was habitat where the species lives,” Budd-Falen explained. “In February of this year, Obama completely turned that on its head.”
“For one thing, he said that we are no longer going to look at habitat that the species currently has. We can designate critical habitat anywhere the species’ range was at one time,” she continued. “And, Fish and Wildlife Service can go to a map and designate critical habitat where the species might feel like living some day, based on climate change.”
Additionally, changes were made to notice requirements for critical habitat. It is no longer required that critical habitat be noticed by providing legal descriptions. Rather, the only requirement is that a map be published on an 8.5 by 11 piece of paper in the Federal Register.
“Then, they said it isn’t enough to protect critical habitat,” Budd-Falen continued. “They want to protect temporary habitat, ephemeral habitat and migratory habitat.”
“I think this is really frightening,” Budd-Falen said. “It’s a frightening take-hold of our private property rights.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.