Two Western congressional leaders say Obama budget continues ‘war on the West’

 The co-chairs of the Congressional Western Caucus are not mincing words about what they think of Obama’s 2014 budget and how it treats states in the West, state’s in which a majority of the land is controlled by federal bureaucracies.

“I am very disappointed that the President has decided to continue his war on the West by piling on new regulations and fees for oil and gas producers in his 2014 budget,” said Congressman Steve Pearce, R-NM. “Oil and gas producers already have to jump through hoops to drill on federal lands, and the provisions outlined in this budget proposal will make it nearly impossible for the industry to develop energy on federal lands. The President loves to take credit for oil and gas development on private and state lands, yet he is dead set on killing exploration and development on federal lands. In addition to his attack on our energy producers, President Obama also made further cuts to the Wildlands fire program, leaving our forests without the protection they need heading into fire season. Last year was one of the worst fire seasons on record, and our forests can’t afford a repeat of last years’ damages.”

“The Department of the Interior’s FY14 budget is quite the parting shot from Secretary Salazar,” said Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis, R-NM. “It’s as if they sit around and try to out-do each other on how badly they can hurt Western economies and communities.  Here’s some lowlights: New taxes to hinder development of oil, gas and coal; new fees to feed the insatiable appetite for more red-tape; a completely nonsensical proposal to punish developers for not operating when the federal government blocks them from operating in the first place; a one-two punch of new taxes on hard-working ranchers paired with dramatic cuts in rangeland management, and; a stunning disregard for the needs of the West to fight wildfires.  Some have wondered about the ‘War on the West.’  Here is your proof.”

 The budget would impose a $1 per head per month increase in grazing fees on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land.

The White House says, “The Budget would repeal over $4 billion per year in tax subsidies to oil, gas, and other fossil fuel producers,” which are really tax breaks provided to every other industry and not checks from the Treasury. It also seeks to soak the oil and gas industry by taking another $2.5 billion over the next 10 years in royalties on public land.

The budget also throws billions more tax dollars at wind and solar projects that require locking up thousands of acres of public land: “Builds on the Administration’s success in reducing our use of oil, promoting energy efficiency, and doubling U.S.renewable electricity generation by increasing funding for the Department’s clean energy technology activities by over 40 percent above the 2012 enacted level.”