In response to recent events in Burns, Oregon Western Caucus Chairman Cynthia Lummis, Chairman Emeritus Steve Pearce (NM-02), and Vice Chairman Mark Amodei (NV-02) questioned the fairness of the fact that federal agencies are held to lower standards than western residents.
“We are a nation of laws and when those laws are broken there are supposed to be consequences. But the law is also supposed to be fair and equitable. When the EPA spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater from the Gold King Mine turning Colorado’s Animas River orange and then failed to inform communities downstream, an investigation by another federal agency held no individuals responsible and the EPA simply continued business without punishment,” the trio said in a joint statement. “In Oregon a similar situation is unfolding where two ranchers are being thrown in jail for 5 years for burning 139 acres of federal land when the federal government, itself a landowner, has over the years burned thousands of acres of private land without anyone being held to account, much less tossed in jail. No American, East or West, should stand for this double standard.
“While we do not condone the actions taken by a select few in Oregon, we do understand their frustration with increasingly heavy handed federal agencies that continue to violate the rights of hardworking American farmers and ranchers. Whether through judicial, legislative, or the executive branch of government we will use every legal avenue at our disposal to protect the western way of life,” the three continued. “Too often federal bureaucrats have operated above the law and have refused to subject themselves to the kind of enforcement they use on private citizens. Federal officials should follow the law and they should not receive any breaks that are not extended to private individuals, especially when federal mistakes have had far more severe impacts on our natural resources.”