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Cynthia Lummis

Lummis, Barrasso Introduce Bill to Delist Grizzlies From Endangered Species List

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined U.S. senators from Idaho and Montana in introducing legislation to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.

The Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and shift management of the grizzlies from the federal government to wildlife scientists in the states.

“By all scientific measures, the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are fully recovered,” Lummis said. “Reproductive numbers are stable and the population is at or near its max capacity for the habitat. It’s time to remove the grizzlies in this area from the Endangered Species List and allow wildlife scientists in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to manage the populations according to science.”

U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana are co-sponsoring the bill with Lummis and Barrasso.

“Grizzly bears are an essential part of the ecosystem of Wyoming, but keeping them listed hurts their populations more than it helps them,” Lummis said. “Wildlife managers that live near the bears and study them closely have a better idea of population parameters than bureaucrats in Washington. It’s time to delist the grizzly in our area and let science dictate our wildlife policy.”

Barrasso added the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem are thriving and no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act, and that has been the case for years.

“Even President Obama’s Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with me that the grizzly bear should be delisted in 2015,” Barrasso said. “The state of Wyoming should be in charge of managing the bear population. Wyoming’s good work and sound management practices should be given an opportunity to demonstrate success. Seeing states successfully implement recovery efforts is just one of the many reasons I am working to improve the Endangered Species Act.”

In 1975, when grizzlies were first listed on the endangered species list, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears.

Grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggested that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears, according to information provided by Lummis.

In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzlies from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations and a doubling of their range land. A federal court in 2018, ruling on a lawsuit filed by environmental groups and Indian tribes, reversed the agency’s decision.

Some organizations across Wyoming praised the legislation proposed by the senators.

““It is time for all to recognize the grizzly bear has already achieved healthy, robust population, has reached overpopulation for its available range and to manage it as such,” the Park County Board of Commissioners said. “It is time for the federal government to uphold its end of the agreement made with the people who live and recreate in Park County and delist the grizzly bear, and we feel the passage of this bill will do just that.”

The Wyoming Outfitters and Guides’ Association echoed these sentiments, saying it is long past time to delist the bears.

“Long overdue is the need to delist the grizzly bear, a species whose recovery has been realized for nearly a decade now, yet whose removal from endangered species classification has been inappropriately forestalled by activist environmental organizations,” the group said.

However, some conservation groups do not agree.

“It’s disturbing to see Western lawmakers try to blatantly sidestep the science showing that grizzly bears should remain federal protected under the Endangered Species Act,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.  “We’re hopeful this bill dies a quick death in Congress.”

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition opposed a resolution approved in Wyoming’s Legislature in 2019 asking that Congress act to remove the grizzlies from the endangered species list and that the federal government give the state more money to manage the bears until they could be delisted.

“This injects politics and divisiveness into what should be a thoughtful, science-based process,” the group said when the resolution was considered. “The other, we could support, asking Congress for more funding for Wyoming’s grizzly bear management program. Because both asks were placed in the single resolution, we opposed this resolution. However, GYC has on its own supported and continues to ask our congressional delegation to fully fund the ESA to make it even more effective.

This bill by Lummis and Barrasso is similar to one introduced earlier in the legislative session in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In late February, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney reintroduced a bill to Congress that would remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list and prevent them from being considered threatened or endangered wildlife in the future.

Cheney’s bill would direct the Department of the Interior to re-issue its 2017 decision to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and prohibit further judicial review of this decision. It would also turn management of the grizzlies over to the states.

No action has been taken on the bill.

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Lummis Praises Kanye’s Vision For Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis has touted Wyoming’s arguably most famous resident, Kanye West, and his vision for the state following reports he is worth nearly $7 billion.

On Thursday, Lummis retweeted conservative pundit Candace Owens, who wrote a post praising West and claiming he was the richest Black man in U.S. history.

“Grateful that Kanye’s vision includes creating jobs in Cody, Wyoming,” Lummis wrote in her retweet.

According to CNN, West just became a billionaire last year, but is now one six times over, with his worth now being around $6.6 billion. Much of this wealth is from apparel lines, mainly his Yeezy shoe line with Adidas and a clothing line deal with the Gap.

The rapper has been planning to establish a production facility for Yeezy shoes in Cody, but there have been stops and starts to that plan.

Lummis, through a spokeswoman, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that it would only make sense the rapper would want to do business in Wyoming.

“Wyoming is consistently rated the best state to do business, and it makes sense that a successful artist like Mr. West would recognize the Cowboy State as the perfect place for chilling, trying to stack his millions,” Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave said. “Our state has natural beauty, great communities, and low tax rates for individuals and business owners alike. Welcome to the good life, Kanye.”

West has been relatively quiet over recent months, especially after losing the presidential election in November. He did tease another possible run in 2024, though.

West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, filed for divorce last month. The two share four children.

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Lummis Urges Colleagues to Vote Against Interior Sec. Nomination; “She’s More Radical Than Biden”

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Thursday urged her colleagues to vote against the nomination of Secretary of Interior Nominee Deb Haaland.

In a passionate speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Lummis said she agreed that it was “high time” for a Native American woman to lead the Department of Interior, but this wasn’t the right person for the job.

Lummis said Congresswoman Haaland wouldn’t stand up to President Biden and instead would “blindly enact the Biden agenda without consideration for the extraordinary impacts it will continue to have on energy states like Wyoming.”

These impacts have alarmed lawmakers all across the West — specifically the far-reaching implications of an executive order President Biden signed which bans all new oil and gas development on federal lands

Lummis cited a University of Wyoming study which found that Wyoming could lose $13 billion in tax revenue as a result of this executive order.

“Banning permitting on federal lands in Wyoming means banning access to 68% of Wyoming’s minerals,” she said. 

“For our state and our country to remain energy independent, we need someone at the Department of Interior who recognizes that if we shut down producers at home, we are only increasing the power of polluters like Russia and China,” she said.

In contrast, Lummis said, the U.S. has had the largest absolute decline emissions of any country while becoming the world’s top energy producer.

She said this is proof that you can be environmentally and energy-friendly.

What’s not friendly, she said, is the Green New Deal — something Haaland co-sponsored.

Further, in 2019, Haaland told The Guardian that she was “wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public lands.”

Biden, on the other hand, has flip-flopped — repeatedly — on the issue of fracking.

“Congresswoman Haaland is more radical in her positions than President Biden,” Lummis said. “What we need is a secretary who understands the issues that Westerners face.”

“We need someone who knows the ways that states like Wyoming are contributing to America’s energy independence and doing so in increasingly environmentally friendly ways,” she said.

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Lummis Puts Hold On Interior Secretary Nominee Confirmation

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis is part of an effort to delay the confirmation of U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland as the new secretary of the Interior Department until her nomination can be debated in the Senate.

Lummis and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, put a “hold” on Haaland’s nomination, essentially blocking her confirmation until senators can debate the nomination.

Lummis said the “hold” is part of her effort to battle the policies of President Joe Biden that have halted oil and gas leasing on federal land.

“According to a University of Wyoming analysis, the Biden ban could cost my state nearly $13 billion in tax revenue, which would devastate Wyoming’s investments in education, healthcare and infrastructure,” Lummis said in a statement. “Congresswoman Deb Haaland will be a champion of this and even more radical policies, and I am committed to doing anything I can to fight the Biden and Haaland job-killing agenda.

“For Wyoming’s energy workers and producers who will bear the loss of jobs, and for our medical professionals and children who will bear the loss of revenue, I’m putting a hold on Deb Haaland’s nomination to serve as Secretary of the Interior,” she added.

Lummis and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso have both been critical of Haaland’s nomination, saying she will support Biden’s goal of ending energy production on federal land as a way to contribute to the end of global climate change.

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Lummis, Barrasso Oppose $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Both of Wyoming’s U.S. senators oppose the coronavirus relief bill approved by the U.S. Senate over the weekend.

As approved by the Senate, the bill now headed back to the U.S. House of Representatives for its approval includes stimulus payments of $1,400 for most taxpayers, along with extended unemployment benefits and funds for vaccine distribution, local governments, schools and small businesses.

But Lummis and Barrasso said in separate events that the bill contains funding for many programs that have nothing to do with coronavirus relief.

“Even after the most egregious, progressive handouts were stripped from this behemoth bill, we were left with a spending bill full of programs that have nothing to do with the targeted, temporary relief the people of Wyoming need to weather the rest of this pandemic,” Lummis said on Saturday, after the bill narrowly passed through the Senate.

The relief package totals $1.9 trillion.

Among measures removed from the bill in the Senate was a provision that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Senate also eliminated funding for an extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway in Silicon Valley and a bridge in upstate New York.

“What’s worse, after the two parties worked together on five different occasions last year to bring relief to the American people, Democrats decided this time to ignore Republican input or support at any point along the way – and this massive price tag is what they have to show for it,” Lummis said.

Lummis submitted seven amendments to the bill, including one to make the Shuttered Venue Grant program more accessible to Wyoming businesses such as concert venues and rodeo grounds, an amendment to redirect money from Amtrak to help the rural aviation industry and multiple amendments to ensure relief money is properly allocated to programs including veterans’ services and tribal health care.

Barrasso echoed Lummis’ statements that the bill directed too much money to items not connected with COVID relief.

“When people find out what’s in this bill, they’re going to lose any enthusiasm they may have for it right now,” Barrasso said during a “Meet the Press” appearance on Sunday. “This was not really about the coronavirus in terms of the spending. This was a liberal wish list of liberal spending, just basically filled with pork. It didn’t need to be this way.”

He made similar comments during an appearance on Fox News last week.

“The White House chief of staff said this is the most progressive, the most progressive piece of domestic legislation in a generation,” Barrasso said Sunday. “This was never about getting people back to work or kids back to school or the disease behind us. That’s where it should have been focused.”

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Lummis Proposes Amendments For Vets, Indian Health To COVID Relief

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis is proposing a series of amendments to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill making its way through the Senate that she said will redirect funds within the bill to better serve Wyoming’s needs.

Lummis is proposing four amendments dealing with Indian Health Services, the Small Business Administration, Veterans Affairs and the last coronavirus aid package.

“My goal is to try and redeem some of the spending in this bill, by redirecting it to programs that will actually support groups and individuals that have been really impacted by the pandemic, like our tribes, veterans and small business owners,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily.

As it stands, the 628-page bill would provide most taxpayers with a third economic stimulus payment of $1,400, designed to offset the impacts of coronavirus shutdowns. The bill also provides an additional $400 per week in unemployment benefits through the end of August, expands child tax credits and provides extra funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, state, local and tribal government relief, rental assistance and schools.

One of Lummis’ amendments would transfer about $700 million to the Indian Health Service, while another would move more than $1.4 billion to Veterans Affairs programs, including state veterans homes and veterans community care.

Lummis’ third amendment would extend the expiration of the federal “Payroll Protection Program” by 30 days and allow businesses to choose whether they want to participate in the PPP or “Shuttered Venue Grant” program.

“This is a concern that a Wyoming resident brought to the senator’s attention this week,” a statement from Lummis’ office said. “This is a critical amendment for Wyoming concert and theater venues as well as rodeo and fair grounds to help ensure they can keep their doors open for the long run.”

The final amendment would simply insert language into the bill that would specify that groups or individuals who received money through the last round of coronavirus assistance should use that money before spending money made available under the latest bill.

Republicans have criticized the bill, drafted by congressional Democrats, alleging it contains spending not directly related to the coronavirus.

Lummis said she was disappointed with the way the Democrats have handled the latest relief bill.

““Last year, Republicans and Democrats worked in a bipartisan manner to pass five coronavirus-related bills, so it’s sad to see that this time Democrats opted to work behind closed doors to craft a highly partisan bill instead of working with us to again provide a lifeline to families, businesses and communities hit by the pandemic,” she said.

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Lummis, Barrasso Criticize Proposed $15 Minimum Wage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis criticized the proposed $15 minimum wage included in the latest coronavirus relief bill, calling it an inappropriate and irresponsible addition.

“The Biden Administration’s $15 minimum wage increase may work in New York and California but it does not work for states like Wyoming,” Lummis said in a statement. “Placing that one-size-fits-all standard on every state is irresponsible.”

On the Senate floor, Barrasso gave a more impassioned speech about the wage increase.

“The bill includes a mandate from Washington D.C. to double the minimum wage, nothing to do with coronavirus. In fact, it would actually make things worse,” Barrasso said.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, which has been in place since 2009. The proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes not only a stimulus payment for residents, but a proposal to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

Barrasso maintained federal studies showed the increase would do more harm than good.

“The Congressional Budget Office took a look at this and said what would the impact be on the economy? They say that 1.4 million people who have jobs right now would lose their jobs if the federal government came in with a mandate to double the minimum wage,” Barrasso said. “That’s not a stimulus.”

According to Business Insider, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two of the party’s most moderate politicians, have both said they are opposed to using budget reconciliation — a maneuver that allows the majority party to speed through high-priority fiscal legislation without support from the minority party — to pass the minimum wage hike.

Manchin, along with other moderates and most conservatives, said he is worried that the incremental wage increase could end up doing more harm than help. 

Manchin has said he would support something “responsible and reasonable” when it comes to raising the federal minimum wage and has proposed a smaller increase to $11 an hour. 

Congressional Budget Office report estimated the legislation, if passed, would increase the cumulative budget deficit by $54 billion in the next decade. Prices for goods and services would also increase as a result of paying workers more, the report said.

But the report also estimated the hike would pull 900,000 workers out of poverty and pump $333 billion back into the economy.

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Lummis Tapped for Leadership Roles on Two Senate Subcommittees

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Senator will Serve as Top Republican on Subcommittees for Fisheries, Water and Wildlife & Space and Science

U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming will serve as the top Republican, or “ranking member,” on two subcommittees this year, a significant leadership role for a freshman member of the Senate.

Sen. Lummis will serve as ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife. She will also serve as ranking member  on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Science.

Of the two positions, Sen. Lummis said:

“’I’m honored to serve as the top Republican for two subcommittees right off the bat, particularly on issues with such importance to Wyoming. Wyoming has been working to conserve and protect its fish and wildlife since the 1860s, and I’m proud of how our state has managed the rebirth of its wildlife populations like the moose and grizzly. I look forward to bringing our knowledge of responsible and science-based conservation to the Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee.

“Cheyenne is home to the National Science Foundation’s Computational and Information Systems Lab, a supercomputer helping to drive research into how our planet works. With a new computer coming this year, I’m excited to use my spot on the Space and Science Subcommittee to support the people of Cheyenne as they continue their mission.”

Sen. Lummis was previously named to the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; as well as the Environment and Public Works Committee; and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee – three powerful Committees that position her to advocate for Wyoming’s natural resources, financial innovation and rural telecommunications and transportation issues.

A ranking member is the highest ranking, and usually longest serving, minority member of a committee and works with the chairman (majority member) to set committee priorities and agendas.

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Lummis Introduces Bill That Would Block Name Change of Devils Tower

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis introduced legislation, co-sponsored by colleague U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, that would block a potential name change of Devils Tower National Park.

Lummis submitted the bill on Jan. 22. It has been read twice and sent to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for further discussion.

“Devils Tower is one of the most iconic sights In Wyoming,” Lummis said in a statement. “It’s the first national monument in the United States, and a place of significance for everyone who sees it, from the tourists who visit to the native peoples and Wyoming residents who live nearby.”

The legislation comes almost seven years after an attempt to change the name of the monument. In 2014, a proposal was submitted to the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) on behalf of a spiritual leader of the Lakota Nation to change the names of the geologic feature “Devils Tower” and the community of “Devils Tower, Wyoming.”

A few weeks later, the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe wrote to the Secretary of the Interior and others requesting the name “Devils Tower National Monument” be changed. In each instance the request is to change “Devils Tower” to “Bear Lodge.”

More than 20 tribes with close association to the tower hold it sacred, and find the application of the name “Devils” to be offensive.

However, Lummis said the monument’s name has been in place too long to be changed now.

“Devils Tower is well known across the country and around the world as a historical and cultural landmark, and it is critical that we maintain its legacy and its name,” Lummis said.

The names “Bear Lodge,” “Bears Lodge” and “Mato Teepee” were ascribed to the Tower on most maps between 1874 and 1901.

In 1875, Lt. Col. Richard Dodge escorted the scientific expedition of geologist Walter P. Jenney though the Black Hills to determine the truth of rumors of gold. Dodge wrote in his 1875 journal, “The Indians call this shaft ‘The Bad God’s Tower,’ a name adopted, with proper modifications, by our surveyors.”

It’s speculated that a guide for Dodge was the source of this translation, and “Bear Lodge” may have been mistakenly interpreted as “Bad God’s.” As a result, “Bad God’s Tower” then became “Devils Tower.”

The name “Devils Tower” was applied to maps of that era, and subsequently used as the name of the national monument when it was proclaimed in 1906.

The National Park Service has no authority to change the names of the geologic feature, the populated place or the national monument.

The name of the national monument may be changed by an act of Congress or by a presidential proclamation.

In 2019, former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced similar legislation at Lummis and Barrasso’s, which would retain the name “Devils Tower” for both the feature and populated place.

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Barrasso, Lummis Vote No On Trump Impeachment

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U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis on Saturday voted against impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Seven Republicans voted with Democrats which made it the most bipartisan impeachment in history but not enough needed to convict as 17 Republicans would have needed to vote in the affirmative.

Immediately after the vote, Lummis issued a press release stating that the proceedings were “political theater”.

“From the start, I made it clear that I believed this exercise was an unconstitutional distraction that prevented Congress from addressing the very real issues that Wyoming citizens are dealing with,” Lummis said.

“While we spent a week on a political sideshow to which we already knew the ending (acquittal), Congress could have been working on a bipartisan COVID relief package to help struggling businesses in Wyoming,” she said.

Later on Saturday, Barrasso said he opposed Trump’s impeachment from the start and it was time to move forward.

“We have an opportunity to bring about some much-needed healing by focusing on our greatest needs,” Barrasso said. “There is important work to be done for the people of Wyoming and our country. We can start by working together to bring back jobs, get kids safely back to school, and by putting the virus behind us.”

“The violence and mayhem of Jan. 6 will never be forgotten. I continue to reflect on the bravery of the men and women who protected our Capitol that day, and honor those who lost their lives in service,” he said.

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