Butch Otter on Environment
Republican governor; previously Representative (ID-1)
Endangered Species Act creates federal-state conflict
We need look no further than the Endangered Species Act to see the essential conflict between federal and state priorities--especially when it comes to our natural resources. Even putting aside wolves and grizzly bears, there's no doubt that the threat
of federal edicts on sagegrouse, slickspot peppergrass, woodland caribou and other species have a profound impact not only on public policy here in Idaho but also on how our farmers, ranchers and others can pursue their livelihoods.
We are working proactively to avoid worst-case scenarios and to assert our rights as a state.
However, this past year we reaped the whirlwind sown by federal neglect and mismanagement of our public lands. Wildfire suppression costs alone
approached a quarter-billion dollars--not counting huge impacts on the environment, public health, property, and the unrealized benefits of healthy, actively managed forests and rangeland.
Source: Idaho 2013 State of the State Address
, Jan 7, 2013
To EPA: Delist wolves and restore state management
We know what happens when that government-first mindset takes hold. We wind up in court to stop the federal government from breaking its promises on delisting and restoring State management of wolves that are killing our big game and livestock.
We wind up fighting to stop the EPA from imposing unreasonable restrictions on the people of the Silver Valley. Folks, we've got to turn this discussion back to personal responsibility. We've got to turn it back to our communities.
Source: Idaho 2011 State of the State and Budget Address
, Jan 10, 2011
Establish a dairy and animal research and education facility
I’m recommending $10.9 million to help support a collaborative effort between the dairy industry and the University of Idaho, along with other state and federal agencies, to establish a dairy and animal research and education facility in the Magic
Valley. That lab complex will substantially improve Idaho’s ability to research and manage the health of all Idaho livestock and wildlife that hasn’t already been killed by our exploding wolf population, while consolidating programs for greater efficienc
Source: 2004 State of the State Address
, Jan 8, 2007
Voted NO on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M.
Voting YES on this amendment would restore $214 million in funding for AMTRAK, bringing the total annual expenditure for AMTRAK to $1.114 billion. The chairman of the Railroad Subcommittee explained the increase as follows:
Opponents of the amendment say that it would increase funding for Amtrak by gutting and eliminating critical programs, including safety programs, resulting in reductions in force at several agencies.
Reference: Department of Transportation appropriations;
Bill HR 5576 Amendment 1008
; vote number 2006-263
on Jun 13, 2006
- Unlike aviation, highways and transit, there is no dedicated funding for investing in our Nation's passenger rail service. This amendment restores $214 million to the Amtrak account, taking it to $1.114 billion, which is still about $300 million less than we had during the course of last year's discussion.
- Last year the President sent up a budget of zero for Amtrak. We had an amendment process that we went through this time. This time we are up to $900 million in the bill [without this amendment].
- But if you look at that $900 million, there is only $500 million for capital expenditures, out of which has to come a debt service of $280 million, which only leaves $220 million for the capital needs of this country for Amtrak, for passenger rail.
- There is nothing for
operation, and I know that the response to that is going to be that there are some incentive grants in the bill.
Voted NO on barring website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.
An amendment to prohibit funding the "Yucca Mountain Youth Zone" website. Voting YES indicates opposition to using Yucca Mountain as the national nuclear waste repository. The amendment's sponsor says:
I would like to introduce the American people to the newest member of the Bush administration's energy policy team. His name is Yucca Mountain Johnny. He is the star of the Energy Department's Yucca Mountain Youth Zone Web site devoted to brainwashing school children into believing that burying the Nation's nuclear garbage 90 miles from Los Vegas is safe.
- The Web site features games and activities to make high level nuclear waste fun. High level nuclear waste is not fun. It is dangerous, and the Department of Energy should not be using taxpayer money for a propaganda tool.
- I would probably not be as upset with Joe Camel, excuse me, Yucca Mountain Johnny, if there was a more balanced approach on this Web site. It doesn't talk about the potential of accidents or being an inviting target for
terrorists. It doesn't talk about the fact that Yucca Mountain is in a volcanic and seismic zone area. It doesn't say anything about the existence of safer and cheaper alternatives.
- Among Yucca Mountain Johnny's witty sayings, he says, "The worst mistake is never making one." Well, Yucca Mountain is a mistake. This Web site is a mistake. Yucca Mountain Johnny is a mistake, and to promote the proposed nuclear waste repository to our children under the guise of education is a big mistake.
The amendment's opponents respond:
Reference: Energy and water development appropriations bill;
Bill HR 5427 Amendment 919
; vote number 2006-200
on May 24, 2006
- To my knowledge, nobody has questioned the accuracy or truth of what is on the Web site. My guess is that most of the children that access this website use it for term papers and papers in their classrooms that they have to do on nuclear power.
- Whether you oppose or support the repository, we should at least want the facts out to our children and adults who wish to use that same Web site about just what exactly it is.
Voted YES on deauthorizing "critical habitat" for endangered species.
To amend and reauthorize the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide greater results conserving and recovering listed species, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act;
Bill HR 3824
; vote number 2005-506
on Sep 29, 2005
- Repealing the authority to designate an area as “critical habitat” for an endangered species
- Requiring the Secretary of the Interior to create “recovery plans” within two years of classifying species as endangered or threatened
- Allowing recovery agreements with private citizens whose land may be part of a species recovery plan
- Issuing grants to support private property owners who voluntarily help to increase the number of endangered or threatened species on their private land
- Providing compensation in an amount no less than fair market value to private landowners who have had regulation imposed upon their land
- Calling upon the Secretary to submit an annual cost analysis of the previous years spending to Congress, including the amount of Federal and State funds used for each species
Voted YES on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects.
Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would reduce and expedite (speed up) environmental and judicial reviews of forest thinning projects. The bill would authorize $760 million a year from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2008. The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service would have the authorization to remove vegetation that could cause or assist the spread of wildfires, disease or insect infestation. All forest thinning project would come after public meetings had been held. Forest thinning would be restricted to land that is within a 1.5 miles of at-risk communities , high-risk land that serves as a home for threatened and endangered species, high-risk land in the area of municipal water sources and and high-risk land that is specifically susceptible to disease or insect infestation.
Reference: Healthy Forests Restoration Act;
Bill HR 1904
; vote number 2003-656
on Nov 21, 2003
Establish a grassland reserve program to conserve grassland.
Otter co-sponsored establishing a grassland reserve program to conserve grassland
Establishes a grassland reserve program for land that is or has historically been natural grass or shrubland and has significant potential for animal or plant restoration. Sets forth provisions respecting landowner easement payments and permitted and prohibited practices.
Congress finds the following:
Source: Grassland Reserve Act (H.R.1689) 01-H1689 on May 2, 2001
- Vast grassland once provided critical habitat for complex plant and animal communities throughout much of North America.
- Today, grassland areas have been largely converted to other uses, threatening and eliminating plant and animal communities unique to North America.
- A significant portion of the remaining grassland is on working ranches.
- Ranchers have an economic interest in preserving the remaining grassland as forage for their livestock.
- Many ranchers are also concerned about losing the open spaces and 'big sky' central to the ranching way of life.
Apart from the loss of grassland, ranches themselves have steadily disappeared through the years and are likely to disappear at a faster rate in the immediate decade as a generation of ranchers reach retirement age.
- Ranch land provides important open-space buffers for animal and plant habitat.
- Ranching forms the economic backbone for much of the rural area of the western United States.
- Currently, there are no Federal programs that conserve grassland, ranch land, or other land with comparable high resource value, other than wetland, on a national scale.
- A grassland reserve program would provide important economic assistance to ranchers and other agricultural producers who may be struggling financially and who may voluntarily decide that participating in the program would be to their advantage.
Reduce liability for hazardous waste cleanup.
Otter co-sponsored an amendment to CERCLA:
Title: To provide relief for small businesses from liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Summary:
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1831 on May 15, 2001
- Amends CERCLA to provide that persons shall be liable for response [cleanup] costs as non-owners or operators only if the total of material containing a hazardous substance was greater than 110 gallons of liquid material or 200 pounds of solid material.
- Applies this exemption only to activities taking place before April 1, 2001.
- Exempts a person from liability for response costs for municipal solid waste (MSW) as a non-owner or operator if the person is an owner, operator, or lessee of residential property from which all of the person's MSW was generated, or a certain small business or small charitable tax-exempt organization that generated all its MSW.
- Makes nongovernmental entities that commence a contribution action liable to the defendant for all reasonable costs of defending the action if the defendant is not liable based on the above-described exemptions.
- Adds to the list of parties eligible for de minimis [inconsequential] final settlements certain persons and businesses that demonstrate an inability or limited ability to pay response costs.
Rated 5% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes.
Otter scores 5% by the LCV on environmental issues
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders.
The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.
Source: LCV website 03n-LCV on Dec 31, 2003
Keystone XL Pipeline fundamental to economic prosperity.
Otter signed Letter from Governors in US and Canada to Pres. Obama
Dear Mr. President,
We respectfully urge you to move forward on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The energy relationship between the US and Canada is vital to the future of both our countries.
We consider the Keystone XL Pipeline fundamentally important to the future economic prosperity of both the US and Canada.
Source: Letter from Governors 13-KeyXL-G on Jan 17, 2013
- Crucial to US energy security: With the pipeline, US imports from Canada could reach twice what is currently imported from the Persian Gulf.
- Thousands of jobs: The pipeline project is expected to create thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs and generate tax revenues in local economies along the pipeline route.
- Efficient and reliable: We are committed to responsible stewardship of our shared environment. Pipelines remain the most efficient method of transporting large volumes of crude oil, but we also recognize the need to take the measures necessary to protect the environment and public health and safety.