WASHINGTON– Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) offered an amendment to the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R. 152) that would help ensure Hurricane Sandy disaster relief funds are not misused to acquire new federal land. Today, the House approved Bishop’s amendment as well as the final version of H.R. 152, which will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.
The Disaster Relief Appropriations act provides $50.7 billion in funding for recovery efforts associated with Hurricane Sandy. Bishop’s amendment specifically prevents the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using these funds to acquire new federal land.
Bishop stated that, “We must put safeguards in place to ensure that disaster relief funds are used appropriately and responsibly to address immediate emergency needs. Land acquisition does not qualify as “emergency” nor “immediate” hurricane relief.”
The federal government currently owns 660 million acres, making it the largest land owner in the United States. This essentially equates to one third of the United States’ landmass.
“Resources allocated to the Departments of Interior and Agriculture ought to address needs on existing federal land and not the acquisition of new land. As things stand, there was already a maintenance backlog on our federal lands prior to Hurricane Sandy. The last thing we need to be doing is exacerbating this problem by adding to the federal estate,” Bishop added.