Curtis Advocates for Utah Forests on House Floor

Curtis Advocates for Utah Forests on House Floor

May 14, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the House Natural Resources ‘National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee’, spoke on the House floor to advocate for an amendment to HR 2157 that would increase funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection program.

In the state of Utah alone, nearly half a million acres burned last year. Over 60% of Utah is federal land, adding even more unique challenges to forest management. This week, Rep. Curtis cosponsored The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019, a solution to the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire. Click here to read more.

The Congressman’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of this amendment to HR 2157, increasing funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection program by 310 million dollars.

Last year, Utah, like many States in the West, faced devastating wildfires that affected many communities in my district. The Pole Creek Fire and Bald Mountain Fire, which started on federal land, collectively burned over 117,000 acres and left damaged infrastructure and homes in their paths.

Many of the communities affected by the fires need assistance to rebuild and repair the critical watersheds that they rely on, but have not been able to receive it. For example, Utah County has been approved for over 9 million dollars in aid from NRCS through the Program, but because of inadequate funding, has yet to get the funds they were promised.

Cleaning up and rebuilding after a wildfire is an important step in protecting against future disaster. I am proud to support this amendment that will bring aid to communities like Utah County that have been affected by catastrophic natural disasters.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.”

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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After Tragic 2018 Forest Fires, Curtis Introduces Bill to “Restore Health and Resiliency”

After Tragic 2018 Forest Fires, Curtis Introduces Bill to “Restore Health and Resiliency”

May 13, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee, gave the following remarks at the House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing.

The hearing was on “Wildfire Resilient Communities” and yesterday, the Congressman joined a group of his Republican colleagues in the Natural Resources Committee to introduce The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019, a solution to the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire. More information can be found below.

“This Congress presents a new opportunity for Congress to enact meaningful reforms to bring relief to our western communities. It is vital that we empower land management agencies with the tools they need to restore health and resiliency to our forests, while also finding ways to make our rural communities safer from the threat of catastrophic wildfires.”

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019

Last year, the Pole Creek Fire and Bald Mountain Fire burned thousands of acres of federal land in Utah. Many of those communities, including Utah County, have attempted to utilize USDA’s disaster recovery programs (Emergency Watershed Protection) but have been unable to receive any resources.

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019 pairs targeted forest management reforms with needed regulatory streamlining to dramatically improve the health and resiliency of forests and rangelands. The bill provides federal land management agencies immediate tools to increase the pace, scale and cost efficiency of forest management projects, without sacrificing environmental protections.

“Last year, Utah had some of the largest fires in the state’s history. Though I was proud of my constituents who stepped up and volunteered time and resources to fight the fires, behind the camaraderie there was an underlying frustration that these fires should have been prevented in the first place,” Curtis said. “I’m pleased to support this legislation that provides tools to streamline forest management projects without having to compromise environmental protections.”

The bill utilizes tools that the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can implement immediately to mitigate insect and disease infestation, prevent damage to municipal watersheds and critical infrastructure, quickly harvest wildfire-killed trees to pay for reforestation and improve the health of forests and grasslands to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.

It also streamlines environmental reviews of projects for the removal of dead trees to pay for reforestation after large wildfires, requires an Environmental Assessment for a reforestation project, and encourages and speeds wildlife habitat improvement for wild turkey, ruffed grouse, elk, deer and other “early seral” forest-dependent species.

Click here to read the full bill text.

The Congressman’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

“I want to thank my democratic friends for convening this hearing to discuss our growing national wildfire crisis. After a historically tragic fire year, House Republicans, especially those on this committee, have been urging our friends on the other side of the dais to take action on this dire issue. I am pleased they are doing so here today.

The poor health of our nation’s forests has reached crisis levels. Before our own eyes, we’ve seen many of our nation’s once flourishing forests transform into dead and burned out wastelands. 2018 was an especially deadly and destructive year. Wildfires destroyed over 8.8 million acres across the US.

In my home state of Utah alone, nearly half a million acres burned last year. Over 60% of Utah is federal land, adding even more unique challenges to forest management. Tragically, wildfires have also claimed the lives of over 400 Americans in the last 20 years. Just last year an especially deadly fire in California killed 85 people.

The poor state of many federal forests is an undeniable national emergency. For decades we have failed to properly manage our forests, which has led to hazardous fuels buildup. As a result, these excessive fuel loads are increasing the likelihood of deadly fires. We cannot continue to ignore the forest health crisis. The Federal government’s current rate, treating a mere 2% of the nearly 80 million acres identified as high risk to wildfire, is not acceptable.

Litigation and endless analysis force federal land managers to spend 40% of their time and money on bureaucratic processes and “bulletproofing” against the fear of litigation instead of getting real work done on the ground. This is a very real problem and we must enact measures to increase the pace and scale of active management across our forest lands.

This Congress presents a new opportunity for Congress to enact meaningful reforms to bring relief to our western communities. It is vital that we empower land management agencies with the tools they need to restore health and resiliency to our forests, while also finding ways to make our rural communities safer from the threat of catastrophic wildfires.

There are some who unfortunately dismiss or downplay the need for better forest management. They argue that efforts would be better served to focus solely on community protection tools like fire-resistant construction and defensible spaces. While these are very important public safety tools, they do not negate the need for more proactive management of our forests. They go hand in hand.

While I am excited to work on important community safety efforts, I must also urge my colleagues to not neglect our responsibility to address the failing health of our nation’s forests. For too long we have focused on fire suppression while ignoring the need to address fire prevention, and year after year, our national wildfire crisis continues to grow.

Toward that end, yesterday I was proud to join my good friend Congressman Westerman in introducing the “Resilient Federal Forests Act.” I believe this bill provides the types of fire prevention tools needed to restore health to our nation’s forests, while also empowering important community safety efforts. This proposal builds upon Congressman Westerman’s House passed legislation from the 115th Congress, and provides real reforms that will help our land managers prevent catastrophic wildfires and stop the horrible tragedies that we are seeing in the west year after year.

I urge my colleagues to join us in this effort. With that, Madame Chair, I would like to thank our witnesses for being here today. I look forward to listening to your testimony.”

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Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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Curtis Taiwan-US Relations Bills Sail through House

Curtis Taiwan-US Relations Bills Sail through House

May 10, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement after two of his bills passed the House last night without objection. The Congressmen joined his bipartisan colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee to introduce H.R. 2002 — “To foster security in Taiwan, and for other purposes” and H. Res. 273 — “Reaffirming the United States commitment to Taiwan and to the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act.”

“The 23.5 million people of Taiwan represent the only democracy in the Chinese speaking world and the island has come to represent many of the same principles we hold dear. With its sixth successful direct presidential election in 2016, Taiwan continues to serve as a proud example of democratic success in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Curtis. “39 years ago, I was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan. I grew to love their unique customs, culture, history, and language, and I developed a great personal appreciation for its people and their way of life. It is an honor and privilege to support our friend and partner, Taiwan, and highlight the bonds that connect us.”

Background

Taiwan has been a reliable partner in East Asia. US trade in goods with Taiwan reached $68 billion in 2017, making Taiwan the United States’ 11th largest trading partner. More specifically, Taiwan is Utah’s 6th largest trading partner and received $636 million in exports from Utah in 2017.

Over the last four decades, Taiwan has blossomed into a beacon of democracy in Asia and an increasingly important US partner, but US-Taiwan relations have continued to be constrained by administrative restrictions.

H.Res. 273 recognizes the Taiwan Relations Act on the 40th anniversary of its signing: April 10, 1979. It also reaffirms that the Taiwan Relations Act—together with President Reagan’s “Six Assurances”—are and will remain cornerstones of United States relations with Taiwan.

H.R. 2002 also recognizes the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act and aims to fix excessive restrictions and a lack of transparency. Specifically, the bill directs the Secretary of State to review its guidance on relations with Taiwan, reissue such guidance, report to Congress on the process, and furnish the relevant guidance to the House and Senate foreign policy Committees. It also states that it is US policy to advocate for Taiwan’s meaningful inclusion in United Nations, World Health Assembly, International Civil Aviation Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, etc., supports Taiwan’s continued pursuit of asymmetrical defense capabilities, and encourages the US Trade Representative to continue negotiations with Taiwan to reach a bilateral trade agreement that increases market access for the US and promotes Taiwan’s economic wellbeing.

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Curtis Votes Against Ineffective and Economically Damaging HR 9

Curtis Votes Against Ineffective and Economically Damaging HR 9

May 6, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement after voting against HR 9: Climate Action Now Act.

“House Democrats had an opportunity to work with Republicans on a path towards addressing growing international environmental issues, but instead opted toward politicizing the issue and refusing to work with Republicans toward a bipartisan solution that could be signed into law,” said Curtis. “Twice, I offered a good-faith amendment that would bring transparency to the emissions produced by all countries in the agreement, including foreign heavy polluters like China—both times it was shot down on a partisan basis. I want to ensure our efforts actually improve the environment, avoid damaging our economy, and are based on facts, not politics.”

The Congressman’s proposed amendment to HR 9 was voted down during the “Foreign Assistance Budget and Policy Priorities” House Foreign Affairs hearing last month. Only 3 Republican amendments were considered compared to the 26 Democrat amendments that were debated. 

Rep. Curtis spoke on the House floor to outline his concerns about the costs and effectiveness of the legislation, the potential job losses in rural America, the United States innovation and technological development that have resulted in the US already leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas, and his frustration that China—the earth’s largest greenhouse gas polluter—is shown leniency. 

“I’ve heard over and over that the US must remain in the Paris Agreement to ‘show leadership.’ What kind of leadership leads to double-digit unemployment in rural America but lets China off the hook?  I agree that America must continue to show leadership. But let’s focus on leadership that goes back to the core principles of innovation, conservation, adaptation, and preparation. [HR 9] fails to do any of that.

Let’s continue leading the world in bettering our environment—but let’s not pretend that HR 9 is the silver bullet to our evolving world. It’s time to stop with the easy, cheap rhetoric that offers false promises and divides our country even further.”

The Congressman’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“Utahns believe in being good stewards of our planet—leaving the earth better than we found it. When I served as the mayor of Provo, we pursued policies to construct LEAD certified buildings, create more environmentally friendly public transit options, and educate residents on how they could be better stewards of their environment.

We had considered these efforts to be meaningful steps in the right direction. Imagine my surprise when I arrived in Congress and learned of the dangerous “winner-take-all” system of governing that has overtaken Washington, especially on issues impacting the environment. Instead of a pragmatic approach to positive change through small and consistent consensus, an all-or-nothing approach dominates the debate and villainizes all but the most extreme positions.

Congress is a place where ideological purity is rewarded more than results. It is easy to vote on a messaging bill, that the sponsor knows will never pass into law, and go home to applause from their most like-minded constituents. It is difficult to leave the echo chamber and work across the aisle, with individuals who have different backgrounds than yourself, and find common ground.

The most obvious example of this is the climate change debate in our country, where my Democratic colleagues have taken the easy path. The bill we are voting on today has 224 Democratic cosponsors, and not a single Republican. Instead of working with Republicans on our four-part approach to addressing climate change through American innovation, conservation, adaptation, and preparation, we are sending a partisan bill to die in the Senate.

I attempted to work with my colleagues on this bill. I offered a good-faith amendment that would increase transparency and competition by comparing the emissions produced by all of the countries in the Paris Agreement. This amendment wasn’t even allowed a vote by the Democratic leadership, although there was no problem allowing votes on all their Democratic friend’s amendments. In fact, only three republican amendments will be considered compared to the 26 democrat amendments that we will debate. To my colleagues on the other side, are you afraid of hurting the feelings of Russia and China by pointing out that they are not pulling their weight? 

I have long been a proponent of protecting the environment and I was proud to receive the Utah Clean Air Partnership person of the year award in 2017. I have championed hundreds of thousands of acres of bipartisan conservation in Utah. I, like all Utahns, care deeply about conserving our way of life for future generations.

But I cannot vote for HR 9 because I believe it drives us further apart—reinforcing a false narrative that all Republicans don’t care about the environment because they are unwilling to get on board with an all-or-nothing, unrealistic approach to addressing climate change.

HR 9 completely ignores the serious and legitimate concerns about the costs and effectiveness of the Paris Agreement.

HR 9 ignores that President Obama’s pledge in the Paris Agreement could cost the U.S. $250 billion dollars and nearly 3 million jobs in the next six years. It ignores that in the next twenty years, these commitments could cost us $3 trillion dollars and 6.5 million jobs.

HR 9 also ignores that because of innovation and technological development, the United States is already leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas. Since 2000, the United States has decreased annual carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 800 million tons—the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.

HR 9 ignores the fact that if the United States cut their CO2 emissions to zero, it would not come even close to offsetting the emissions coming from the rest of the world.

HR 9 even ignores that the Paris agreement allows China—the earth’s largest greenhouse gas polluter—to increase their emissions through 2030, with little evidence to show that they plan to comply in the future.

I’ve heard over and over that the US must remain in the Paris Agreement to “show leadership.” What kind of leadership leads to double-digit unemployment in rural America but lets China off the hook?

I agree that America must continue to show leadership. But let’s focus on leadership that goes back to the core principles of innovation, conservation, adaptation, and preparation. This bill fails to do any of that.

Let’s continue leading the world in bettering our environment—but let’s not pretend that HR 9 is the silver bullet to our evolving world. It’s time to stop with the easy, cheap rhetoric that offers false promises and divides our country even further.”

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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Curtis Hosts Environmental Stewardship Roundtable

Curtis Hosts Environmental Stewardship Roundtable

May 3, 2019

Salt Lake City, UT— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement after hosting a roundtable on environmental stewardship and innovation. The roundtable discussion included a diverse range of groups representing the energy industry, transportation, and government.

“I’ve often said that we cannot expect change from others until we are willing to make sacrifices ourselves. I’m pleased to see that so many Utah companies are actively seeking to improve our communities, both economically and environmentally,” said Curtis. “For example, all Utahns are aware of the negative impacts of inversion on our air quality, but most are unaware of the numerous efforts being made by the public and private sector to tackle such environmental problems. This roundtable opened my eyes to new innovative technologies that are being developed, and efforts by a diverse group of Utahns, to combat our unique environmental challenges.”

The roundtable highlighted concerted efforts by the participants to contribute to their local communities, provide jobs for Utahns, and leave the region better environmentally than they found it through reducing air pollution, partnering to make sustainable energies, educating the public, and more.

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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