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As an avid outdoorsman, a clean environment and strong conservation programs are of the utmost concern to me.  Protecting the environment can go hand-in-hand with our efforts to expand our economy.  One of my top priorities in Congress is to continue to support efforts that balance growth with stewardship.  By reducing rates of pollution in more cost-effective ways, we can ensure that our policies are economically and environmentally sound.

Conservation in the Farm Bill

On February 7, 2014, President Obama signed the Agriculture Act of 2014 into law.  This bill, more commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill,” was a bipartisan agreement reached between the House and Senate to reauthorize farm and nutrition programs through the end of FY 2018.  Included in the Farm Bill is the reauthorization of conservation programs that are important to our environment, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  Additionally, this bill consolidates numerous smaller conservation initiatives into these larger programs in order to reduce duplicative efforts and increase efficiency.  Lastly, this bill ties conservation compliance standards to crop insurance eligibility, ensuring that producers implement approved conservation plans for any highly erodible lands that are being used to produce crops.  I voted in favor of the Agriculture Act of 2014.  I look forward to remaining engaged as negotiations continue into the next Farm Bill. 

Asian Carp

Many catfish farms began using Asian carp in the 1970s as a means of effectively removing algae and other build-up affecting overall pond function.  Unfortunately, due to the large flooding in the area during the 1990s, many of the catfish farm ponds overflowed and released Asian carp into nearby streams and the Mississippi River Basin.  The carp have since made their way up the Mississippi River, competing with indigenous fish for resources and endangering local ecosystems.

Congress continues to be engaged on this issue and is working with the Army Corps of Engineers in association with the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration to provide funding and assistance for mitigating the effects that Asian carp are having on the Great Lakes.  Rest assured that as Congress continues to examine the ramifications of Asian Carp and possible solutions, I will continue to be actively engaged in this issue.

Protecting the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are one of Wisconsin’s greatest natural resources.  They contain approximately 21 percent of the world’s freshwater and represent over 80% of North America’s surface freshwater.  It is absolutely essential that we make every effort to protect this treasured resource for future generations of Wisconsinites.

Congress has consistently approved—with my support – funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) as part of the legislation providing funding for the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year.  Of its many purposes, the GLRI is charged with cleaning up toxins and areas of concerns, combating invasive species like Asian carp, promoting healthy waterways, restoring wetlands and other habitats, and working with a variety of partners to protect and preserve the Great Lakes.

EPA’s Intrusive Regulations

Under then President Obama’s guidance, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers intended to implement a rule that would expand the scope of federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The proposed rule would assert CWA jurisdiction over nearly all areas with any hydrologic connection to downstream navigable waters, including man-made conveyances such as ditches, pipes, and farmland ponds.  This regulatory proposal runs contrary to state water law, previous Supreme Court decisions, and existing compacts.  While I believe the federal government has a clear role to play in protecting the environment, I was deeply concerned with this regulatory initiative coming from the EPA.

In an effort to address this proposed rule, Representative Bill Shuster introduced the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015.  This legislation would prohibit the EPA and Corps from enforcing the proposed rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the CWA, expanding the EPA’s jurisdiction into state and local waters.  It would require the agencies to consult with state and local officials to formulate a new regulatory proposal to define the scope of waters covered under the CWA.  I was happy to support this bill when it passed the House in May of 2015.

On October 9, 2015, a federal appeals court ruled that the regulation cannot be enforced nationwide.  According to the court, “a stay temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty” of the rule until it is determined whether the EPA’s efforts are legal.  The House then acted once more to nullify the overreaching WOTUS rule.  On January 13, 2016, the House considered S.J.Res. 22, which expressed congressional disapproval over one of the largest federal land grabs in history while deeming the rule ineffective.  The resolution passed by a vote of 253-166.

In June 2017, the Trump Administration moved to formally withdraw the Waters of the United States rule.  While legal action continues on this rule, please know I remain engaged and hope a resolution is found that rescinds once and for all this harmful rule.

Additionally, I was deeply concerned with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan initiative.  On August 3, 2015, then President Obama released the final version of this plan, which the EPA estimated would cut carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants in the United States by at least 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.  Unfortunately, rather than trying to grow our economy for everyone by keeping energy costs low, the plan would once again pick winners and losers.  This final rule would add more burdensome regulations that will destroy jobs and raise energy costs for hard-working families already struggling to make ends meet.  It would also do little, if anything, to meaningfully reduce global carbon emissions, according to the EPA's own estimates.

That’s why I was pleased to see the Trump Administration take the first steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan in early October 2017.  I believe that repealing the Clean Power plan was the right move for the economy and for the rule of law.  The Obama administration’s signature climate rule was a vast, unlawful expansion of government authority into the energy sector with wide-reaching consequences for our economy.  Congress will continue to work with the Trump administration to promote an energy strategy that gets government out of the business of picking winners and losers and instead encourages all types of energy sources.

Sportsmen’s Issues

During the 115th Congress, I serve as a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.  I am happy to serve in this capacity and believe in supporting policies that help sportsmen and women.  Consisting of nearly 300 members of Congress, the Caucus promotes and helps pass legislation that directly affects sportsmen.  This includes issues related to conservation efforts, Second Amendment rights, and other fishing and hunting-related concerns.

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