Barrasso: Wyoming, Not Washington, Should Decide How to Manage Wyoming Lands

December 14, 2023
Click here to watch Senator Barrasso’s opening remarks. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered remarks at a committee business meeting to consider pending legislation.  

For more information on the business meeting and the agenda of legislation to be considered click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Well, thank you Mr. Chairman.

“Thanks for holding today’s business meeting.

“Variety of important bills up before us today.

“Many of the bills are good policy and have broad bipartisan support.

“I am going to join you Mr. Chairman in encouraging the committee to pass these bills by voice vote, the bipartisan bills.

“Among these bills is the Pilot Butte Power Plant Conveyance Act, which I’ve introduced this year.

“It began generating, this plant did, in 1925.

“This hydropower plant has not been in service since 2008 when it became too costly to operate.

“And as a result, the plant has been sitting idle for the past 15 years, and the Bureau of Reclamation is planning to demolish it.

“The Midvale Irrigation District in Pavillion, Wyoming is willing to take ownership of the power plant.

“If enacted, the bill will allow for this federal asset to be transferred to a local entity that can make the needed repairs and bring it back into operation.

“It’s a win-win situation.

“The American people will no longer own a mothballed facility that would cost money to demolish.

“The people of Wyoming will be able to put the hydropower plant back into use.

“Today’s agenda also includes the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Act.

“This bill would resolve the management status for thousands of acres of federal public lands

across seven counties in my home state of Wyoming.

“These acres involve Wilderness Study Areas, which are lands managed solely for preservation, even though they are not included in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

“The Bureau of Land Management studies these areas to determine whether they should be designated as wilderness lands or returned to multiple-use status. 

“Until Congress acts, the Bureau treats all these lands as wilderness.

“In other words, the land is closed off to almost every use.

“And for the people of Wyoming, who rely on access to the land to make a living and for recreation, this not acceptable.

“In 1991, the Bureau released a report recommending a balanced approach for Wyoming’s Wilderness Study Areas.

“This was 1991, Mr. Chairman.

“Specifically, the Bureau recommended that Congress designate some of the lands as wilderness appropriately, and release the majority of the land back to multiple-use status.

“Over three decades later, these lands still remain in limbo.

“That is why some of our counties began to work on this Wyoming Public Lands Initiative.

“I want to thank the Wyoming County Commissioners for their collaboration since 2015.

“The bill, which I am proud to sponsor on their behalf, generally follows the recommendations of the 1991 report.

“It strikes a balance between protecting the places people in Wyoming love, while expanding multiple use areas that our state and local economies rely on.

“The bill was developed by the people who live near the land and who will be accessing the land when it is enacted.

“It’s been developed ‘from the ground up.’

“It resolves a decades-old stalemate.

“The bill will increase conservation, and ensure that other lands can be unlocked for uses important to Wyoming’s people

“I firmly believe the people of Wyoming – not Washington – should decide how to manage these lands. 

“I also support many of the other items on today’s agenda.

“However, there are several bills on the agenda that I cannot support, didn’t support last Congress, continue to oppose.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”