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In the 2012 election, “a fair shot” is the new “hope and change.”
    President Barack Obama regularly promises in campaign speeches that his policies will give every American a “fair shot.” As with his previous campaign promises, the president knows people interpret “fair” to match their own meaning.
    The choice Americans face in this important election, however, does not rest on what they think “fair” means. They must know what the President means when he uses the term.
    For more than three and a half years, the President has governed by his politically motivated idea of fairness. His record demonstrates that “fair” for him doesn’t mean equal opportunity for all Americans – it means equal outcome regardless of efforts.
    We now know that the President thinks it’s fair to redefine the work requirements for the welfare program to include bed rest and helping neighbors run errands.
    He thinks it’s fair to tell defense contractors they cannot warn employees about future layoffs before the election — because he doesn’t want workers to know that he supports looming defense cuts.
    He thinks it’s fair to take more than $700 billion from seniors on Medicare to spend on a whole new program for someone else, “Obamacare.”
    He thinks it’s fair to tell American seniors that he has strengthened Medicare, though he has no workable plan to prevent it from going bankrupt.
    He thinks it’s fair that his health care law will force many college students to lose access to low-cost health plans they were previously able to get through their schools.
    On policy after policy, Obama’s partisan definition of fairness does not match the American people’s.
    A rising tide lifts all boats, as the maxim says. The president, however, seems to think it’s better to put holes in all the boats — as long as they’re equal in the end. He admires only the success that can be redistributed from Washington. He thinks we can achieve fairness only when Washington calls the shots.
    Instead of equal opportunity for everyone, we are left under this president with more debt, fewer jobs and less innovation. His bad policies have not helped Americans succeed and improve their quality of life.
    This economic recovery has been the worst in U.S. history. Government bureaucracy has grown, while confidence among our citizens has declined. It’s time to change direction.
    One person getting more does not mean someone else has to get less. All of us can do better — not at our neighbors’ expense, but by our own effort. Our system of free enterprise does not just allow us to prosper, it encourages and rewards us for our efforts.
    The American dream is about freedom, ambition, innovation and overcoming obstacles. Americans speak with pride about having worked their way through college washing dishes, flipping hamburgers or pouring concrete. Whatever it took to reach their goal.
    We must restore real fairness in America. We can start by paying off the crushing debt that’s been piled on the backs of all Americans. We can begin to dismantle the mountain of bureaucracy that stifles American opportunity.
    It’s time to reject the Obama administration’s philosophy and policies before they cause even greater economic stagnation and misery.
    What is fair is to finally get serious about encouraging economic growth. What is fair is reducing taxes for everybody – so families keep more of the money they earn and businesses have more money to expand and hire.
    What is fair is to confront seriously the future of Medicare. We can keep the promises of Medicare for today’s seniors, while strengthening the program for future generations.
    Republicans believe that real fairness means no more favoritism. Fairness means the playing field is level — without Washington picking who wins and who loses.
    Give the American people a fair shot for real, and we will win on our own.

Casper – On May 2, the Wyoming Business Alliance hosted a panel discussion titled, “NAFTA: The Pros, Cons and Impacts to Wyoming Today and Tomorrow,” to bring Wyoming business leaders together to explore ramifications on the state’s economy. 

The event brought Canadian Consul General Stephane Lessard, Thermopolis rancher Jim Wilson and Puma Steel’s Rex Lewis together to understand the challenges and advantages of the trade agreement.

Canadian perspective

“NAFTA has been extremely beneficial to Canada and the U.S., including Wyoming,” Lessard commented. “In respect to Canada and the U.S., trade has grown significantly.”

In 2017, trade between the U.S. and Canada hit nearly $1 trillion, creating wealth for both countries. 

“Our economies are highly integrated,” he added. “Energy, manufacturing, services, so on and so forth, are deeply integrated, and NAFTA has contributed to that.”

Lessard further cited Canada supplies crude oil to the U.S. among other energy products, as an example.

“More trade and more investment between countries means more jobs, and it also means more choice for consumers and, I would argue, more freedom for businesses,” Lessard said, noting the absence of such an agreement would lead to more tariffs, a loss of jobs and a loss of prosperity.

Uncertain future

“If we don’t have NAFTA, meaning, if negotiations break down and it doesn’t work because there are really tough issues that have been left to the very end, many things change,” Lessard continued. “We may have a deal, but we may not.”
Tough issues, including rules of origin in auto making and other industries, remain to be resolved. 

“If we don’t have NAFTA, then the World Trade Organization rules on most favored nations begin,” he explained. “There are sectors like meat products, petroleum products, plaster products, motor vehicle parts and railway track manufacturing and generally agriculture that would be significantly impacted.” 

The result would be the disruption of integrated supply chains, which would have economic consequences, including lost jobs and lost economic productivity, said Lessard. 

Ag challenges

While Wilson noted the importance of NAFTA, he also said that free trade is not the same as fair trade.

“NAFTA has been going well, but it needs an update,” Wilson said. “President Trump and his negotiators see the need for fair trade on both sides.”

He continued, in the ag industry, because the majority of livestock leave Wyoming to be fed and slaughtered, the ability to export is important. He further noted the agriculture industry doesn’t have the option to choose what price its product is sold at because of the perishable nature of beef and other ag commodities. 

“Wyoming is one of the best sources of protein in the world that there is,” he continued, noting both hay and beef are also the highest quality. “In the U.S., we can produce and we do produce more beef than we can consume in the United States. We need to export because the supply is greater than demand.”

Further, Wilson said not knowing what the supply and demand will be adds uncertainty to the market. 

“American agriculture can feed the world if we get paid for it,” Wilson commented. “My greatest fear is that if we don’t make agriculture profitable for all aspects of farming and ranching, the next generation will be unable to financially stay in agriculture.” 

“We need to all get together to negotiate a fair trade agreement for the American producer,” he added.

Continued negotiations

Lessard said Canada’s top priorities in NAFTA include successful conclusion of NAFTA negotiations, with mutually beneficially solutions for steel, aluminum and uncoated groundwood paper, among other commodities.

“We want a successful conclusion to NAFTA discussions,” he said. “Can we do that in the timeframe the U.S. administration wants? I hope so.”

Additionally Lessard cited a permanent exemption for steel and aluminum tariffs, as well as tariff reduction for uncoated groundwood paper.

Uncoated groundwood paper, which supplies newsprint, is a priority for Canada in NAFTA. The newsprint, which is the source of paper for many local newspapers, including the Wyoming Livestock Roundup.

“One mill applied for this tariff on paper, and the tariff affects far more jobs than the 50 or 100 at this mill,” Lessard said. “Often protectionist measures such as this have good intentions, but the real impacts are staggering.”

“Canada will not just accept any deal, though,” Lessard emphasized. “A trade agreement, just like any business deal, has to be win-win. We’re confident that we’ll get there.”

Outcomes

Lessard and Wilson noted the U.S. and Canada are both trading nations, and even without NAFTA, trade between the two countries would likely continue, but Wilson mentioned the close relationship between the two countries is important. 

“Canada and the U.S. think alike,” Wilson said. “Wyomingites identify more with our neighbors to the north than our fellow citizens on the East Coast. Despite the imaginary line between our countries, it’s natural to work together.”

Wilson further emphasized, while we are all negotiators, we have to have America’s best interests at top of mind.

“We trade genetics, we trade ideas, and we trade products,” he commented. “I’m willing to pay a little bit to get a little bit, but we have to be for America. Let’s work towards that.” 

Lessard concluded, “We’re confident the prosperity we have created together will continue. We have a lot at stake. We built this continent together. We defend it together and we’ll continue to prosper together.”

NAFTA: The Pros, Cons and Impacts to Wyoming Today and Tomorrow was sponsored by Spectrum Enterprise, ExxonMobil and XTO Energy. 

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Washington, D.C. – On March 12, President Donald Trump signed a public lands package including more than 100 pieces of legislation related to public lands and natural resources across the West. 

The package, dubbed the Natural Resources Management Act, passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support, but Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council (PLC), says, “This is a recognition of how difficult it is to get public lands or resource bills passed in Congress today.”

“This is a bunch of small, local bills that don’t have enough horsepower or exposure to get through Congress,” Lane continues. “They are all piled together until there isn’t an elected member in the building who doesn’t have something they support in the bill. Congress has grouped some many bills together that everyone gets something they want.” 

As a result, the act includes a number of individual, highly technical issues together. 

“The last public lands package passed before 2014, so we’ve had a backlog of public lands and resource bills that have been building since then,” Lane comments.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Among the potentially concerning pieces of the Natural Resources Management Act is a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“LWCF is a tool that can be used to put conservation on the ground,” explains Lane, “but it’s often used for federal land acquisition.”

Since the program was implemented in 1965, $18 billion has been spent, 65 percent of which has gone to land acquisition and only 25 percent have gone to state-side grants. 

“This deal permanently reauthorizes LWCF, which we’re opposed to because it takes away Congress’ voice. In the permanent reauthorization, spending floors are put in place,” Lane says. “Forty percent of the funds must be spent on state-side grants, which will be an increase.”

He continues, “It also says a minimum of 40 percent must be spent on federal land acquisition. Effectively, it brings the rate down, but that’s not enough change or progress to have warranted permanent reauthorization.” 

Each year, the appropriate funds must be allocated by Congress, which provides some control. Dollars to support LWCF come from offshore oil and gas revenue earmarked for conservation purposes.

“There is still going to be a fight every year over appropriations,” Lane says. “This year, the president’s budget zeroed the program out.”

Moving into the future, Lane notes that PLC and other organizations will focus on reducing the percentage spent on federal acquisition as close to the 40 percent spending floor as possible.

Land management bills

The public lands package also included a large number of local land bills that designated wilderness areas, make wilderness study areas (WSAs) into full wilderness or released WSAs. 

“These are mostly brokered compromises at the local level,” explains Lane. “We never like to have more wilderness, but we also want to be respectful of decisions made at the local level.” 

However, the bottom line in the Natural Resources Management Act was the formation of several million acres of new wilderness in exchanges for a smaller number of WSA releases.

Boundary adjustments

In addition to land designation changes, Lane says, “There were also some critical wilderness boundary adjustments in places like Owyhee County, Idaho.”
He continues, “We’ve been working a long time in that area, and we were pleased to see those changes.” 

Additionally, long-held disputes on the Texas-Oklahoma border where Bureau of Land Management boundaries conflicts were settled. 

EAJA

Many Wyomingites are familiar with the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which was sponsored by Congressman Cynthia Lummis during her tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“In the package, the Open Book on EAJA also passed,” Lane says. “We’ve been fighting for over 10 years on this act.”

“EAJA mandates that federal agencies compile and maintain a publicly accessible database on payouts to environmental groups through Equal Access to Justice,” he explains. “This is a half-step in the right direction, and we’re happy to see movement.” 

With so many pieces involved, Lane notes there is a mixed reaction to each piece of the bills. 

“These are the broad strokes of the bill, but there’s a lot included,” he says. “At the end of the day, this package is a mixed bag.”

Lane comments. “Mostly, it is indicative of just how difficult it is to get attention focused on rural public lands issues in a Congress that’s predominantly populated by suburban and urban representatives.” 

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

“Non-governmental organizations‭ ‬(NGOs) are not going away,” says Redge Johnson from the Office of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. “One statistic says $4.5 billion has been awarded over 25 years, so they're not going away.” 

Despite the challenges the ranching industry faces from constant onslaught of NGOs focused on the environment, a panel of industry and advocacy experts notes that the agriculture industry must stand their ground, voice their opinion, get organized and work together to accomplish its goals.

Standing our grand

Wyoming Attorney and Department of the Interior Deputy Solicitor Karen Budd-Falen encourages ranchers to push back and stand their ground. 

“We need to push on agencies when they ask for comments,” she says. “Department of the Interior isn't going to get bent out of shape when we push on them. In fact, they might appreciate it.” 

Despite the fact that often comment periods are flooded by NGOs, the use of form letters by these groups means that many comments are carbon copies.

“Well-placed, well-thought-out comments get more traction than all the form postcards provided by NGOs,” Budd-Falen emphasizes.

Useful comments

J.J. Goicoechea, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Federal Lands Committee (NCBA) member and Nevada rancher, explains that when comments are made based around a county master plan or land use plan, they tend to be in a better position moving through the process, and Johnson agreed. 

“Every time there is a forest planning document or National Environmental Policy Act document, we work with Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for consistency and coordination with our state plans,” Johnson says. “There is language under Federal Land Management Planning Act that says, if we have formally adopted plans, these agencies are supposed to work with us.”

He comments, “We have gotten great use out of these plans in the last few months. Nearly every environmental impact statement or environmental analysis that comes out is recognized and utilized. We have been able to get the language from our plans into those documents to help push local perspectives and local knowledge.” 

He further notes that the more states and counites work together, the better, providing a network of coordination, consistency review and cooperation with agencies.

Working together

Opposition groups excel in their organizational efforts, Jaclyn Roberts of the Public Lands Council (PLC) says, noting these groups target and engage specific audiences. The same should be done in the agriculture industry, she adds.

Goicoechea also raised the question as to whether the agriculture industry unfairly dismisses potential cooperators, perhaps, including sportsmen or natural resources organizations.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities for us to work with other groups,” Roberts describes. “When we talk about policy and bi-partisan support, we are going to have to work across the aisle. We are working to show that we are willing to extend a hand.” 

For example, the opportunity to work with moderate conservation groups, recreation or multiple use groups can provide potential partnerships, she adds, saying, “It's important that we capitalize on these relationships when we can.” 

NCBA's Danielle Beck, however, says, “The optimist in me says, yes, we need to be the adults in the room and work with individuals whose viewpoints are different than us. However, I've been in Washington, D.C. too long to be too positive.”

“It's good to be cautious and know thy enemy," she emphasizes. 

Using caution

When conflicts arise, Johnson says organizations must work together, particularly when it comes to multiple uses on public lands. 

“We have to recognize that groups like sportsmen and forestry are other users out there that are key,” Johnson comments. “We will have conflicts, but at the same time, multiple use people want public lands open. We've got to be able to bring these people together and work with them and not be in silos.”

He adds, “The environmental groups are very good at joining together and focusing on something until they achieve their goal. If we can't bring the multiple use groups together and focus them on these issues and keeping these landscapes open, whether it's Endangered Species Act or other issues, it makes it all the more difficult for us to be effective in our messaging, especially in D.C. where the number of phone calls matters.” 

Regardless of whether the science behind the issue is present, Johnson says the loudest voice and people who make the most calls often have more influence.

The bottom line

Budd-Falen agrees but notes it is important to avoid compromising the bottom line.

“We need to know where our bottom line is,” she comments. "We have to be open to saying, here are the six things we can agree on, here is the one thing we can't agree on, and it's okay.” 

Budd-Falen used the example of marriage, saying, “How many of us agree on absolutely everything with our spouse? It isn't a bad thing, but we just don't agree on everything. As an industry, we have to know what our bottom line is. If we find a group that we can agree on 80 percent of things on, agree to what we can agree on.”

While in Washington, D.C. there seems to be an all-or-none mentality, the agriculture industry must stay away from that mentality. 

Public Lands Council Executive Director Ethan Lane says the key, however, is making sure that all groups at the table are honest brokers.

“Everyone on this panel has dealt with groups who simply aren't what they appear to be,” Lane says. “Across the board, we have decoy groups who have done an exceptional job of creating an 'astro-turf' environment. How do we hold those groups accountable so they don't control the playing field?”

Panelists addressed the 50th Annual Public Lands Council Meeting, held in Park City, Utah at the end of September. 

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Washington, D.C. – On March 27, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a memorandum to the Acting Director Michael Nedd of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), instructing him to consider options for improving the agency’s planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes.

“I have heard many concerns about the Planning 2.0 rule and about BLM’s planning and environmental analysis processes,” Zinke wrote in the memo. “These concerns must be addressed.”

He continued that the delays that result from NEPA and BLM’s planning processes are excessive, resulting in costly, long-term studies and reviews.

“Often these additional steps are not a crucial part of a successful planning effort, informing the public or communicating the impacts and tradeoffs involved in a decision,” he said.

Land management

BLM manages 13 percent of the surface area in the United States and roughly one-third of its mineral resources under that land.

“There is little doubt that BLM has a big job in managing our public lands for a wide variety of activities,” Zinke explained. “These activities contribute to the economic health and prosperity of states and local communities by creating jobs through multiple use.”

The $48 million and 5,000 documents involved in NEPA annually could be better spent in on-the-ground work that stimulates economic opportunities.

Broken system

Zinke commented that BLM’s environmental analysis processes are broken, unnecessarily lengthy and burdensome, according to state and local partners for the agency.

“It doesn’t produce the result demanded by the American people,” he continued. “The result demanded is to have an effective, efficient and transparent process that takes less time, costs less money and is more responsive to local needs.”

“For these reasons, I am directing BLM to go back to the drawing board to define actionable items that will make a measurable impact on improving the federal planning process,” Zinke emphasized.

Good neighbors and multiple use

As a result of the constraints and ineffectiveness of the planning process currently, Zinke wrote, “I hereby direct BLM, in accordance with its multiple-use mission, to immediately begin a focused effort to identify and implement results-oriented improvements to its land use planning and NEPA processes.”

Among the direction Zinke gave BLM, he asked the agency to identify redundancies and inefficiencies that can be eliminated while also fulfilling the legal and resource stewardship objectives associated with land management.

“These concepts are not mutually exclusive and should guide BLM as it undertakes this effort,” he said. “BLM will take a hard look at all aspects of the planning process, including challenges with NEPA, and shall incorporate the views and ideas of our state and local partners.”

Zinke laid out seven criteria for the evaluation, including finding better ways to partner with states and reducing duplicative analyses. He also asked the agency to consider more user-friendly representation of the planning process while fostering greater transparency in the NEPA process, including proper accounting of timeframes, delays and the financial cost of NEPA analyses.

He asked that BLM processes seek opportunities to avoid appeal and litigation delays, build trust with neighbors by better integrating local and state needs and developing and implementing efforts to “right size” environmental documents.

Moving forward

“As BLM evaluates all potential solutions, it shall also include in its analysis how a new rulemaking will meet the aforementioned criteria,” Zinke said. “In conducting this analysis, BLM shall make every effort to restore order, focus and efficiency to the federal planning process.”

He emphasized alignment with President Trump’s goals of making America great again through energy independent and shared conservation stewardship, making America safe by restoring sovereignty, getting America back to work and serving the American family.

In this direction, Zinke asked for a report within six months that describes future planning decisions that also provides recommendations for regulatory or legislative actions necessary to meet those goals.

On-the-ground approval

For Wyomingites, Zinke’s memo means a reduction in one-size-fits-all planning and an increase in local land policy.

“The idea that one-size-fits-all, top-down, landscape-scale land use plant that takes year and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete is not an efficient use of taxpayer money,” said Karen Budd Falen of Budd Falen Law Offices, LLC in Cheyenne. “I do not think that was envisioned by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), either.”

Budd Falen cautioned, “While certainly the devil is in the details and I think the livestock industry needs to be fully engaged in commenting on any draft regulations coming out of this effort, the preliminary direction that there needs to be a stronger partnership between BLM and local governments is refreshing and will benefit local industries and the environment.”

The strong voice and focus of local governments, including conservation districts, situates them ideally to have a voice in management of public lands, she added.

As NEPA begins to transform, Budd Falen commented that she believes it would be beneficial to look at whether projects could be reviewed using categorical exclusions or streamlined environmental assessments (EAs).

“I know a lot of BLM employees who would much rather be out in the field than in the office writing NEPA documents,” she added.

Budd Falen summarized, “I think this effort by Secretary Zinke is a good first step toward these goals.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..