All Politics is Local

Western Values calls out Herrera Beutler once again

Western Values Project Action is at it again. In December, the Whitefish, Mont.-based group spent $1 million to push ads calling on Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, to protect public lands. Those ads alleged Washington’s public lands are at risk, such as the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Herrera Beutler has said she’s always worked to protect public lands. That includes cosponsoring a recent bill moving the U.S. Bureau of Land Management headquarters — which oversees public lands, 99 percent of which is located in the West — to any of the 12 states with the majority of public land.

Western Values released a poll Tuesday that found 62 percent of the 3rd Congressional District opposes an executive order to reduce two Utah national monuments by two million acres.

“These numbers should give Representative Herrera Beutler pause in her support of President Trump’s and Secretary Zinke’s attacks on our public lands,” Chris Saeger, Western Values executive director, said in a press release.

The organization is also calling on Herrera Beutler to vote against two bills they say would end protections for national monuments.

“Coming out against these bills would go a long way in her district,” Saeger said.

The two bills referenced are HR 4532 and HR 3990.

HR 4532, known as the “Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act,” creates the first tribally co-managed national monument. Tribal leaders consider the bill “an attack on our sovereignty.”

HR 3990 amends the Antiquities Act and limits presidential authority with respect to national monument designation as well as places new limits on designating future monuments.

“Congresswoman Herrera Beutler keeps backing her way out of answering repeated requests to clarify her position on legislation that will have devastating impacts on public lands in Washington and across the West,” Saeger said.

Western Values is running another print advertisement in the district on the issue (although the ad has not yet been ordered at the Columbian).

I reached out to Herrera Beutler’s spokesperson Angeline Riesterer for comment.

Here’s what she said on the issue:

This leftist out-of-state group appears intent on affecting an issue in Utah on which Jaime has taken no votes and had zero say. While it’s worth noting that every member of the Utah congressional delegation in the U.S. House supports the monument moves made in the state where they are elected, neither bill is scheduled for a vote before congress, and Jaime has not yet taken a position on either one.

A brief review of the bills shows that this out-of-state group is using its money to either intentionally mislead people, or it needs to do better homework. H.R. 4532 creates national monuments; it does not, as the ad alleges “end protections of our national treasures.” Not an acre of land is removed from federal ownership under either bill and no protections for federal land are removed. H.R. 3990 ensures there is local input and approval for any future monument designations over 10,000 acres and doesn’t remove any current protections. This bill adds an environmental review process for large-scale designations by requiring a NEPA/EIS analysis. No drilling or mining will be allowed on the Utah monuments, and tribes will be empowered to help manage the land. So these attack ads beg the question – what is this liberal, out-of-state group trying to do – misrepresent the congresswoman’s record? But don’t just take our word for it, four retired federal employees with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management recently wrote a letter to the editor confirming that this group is creating false alarms with their ad campaign.

No one believes more strongly than Jaime in the value of national monuments like Mt. St. Helens, or in the need for the federal government to better manage its resources. But she’s going to take her marching orders from the residents of Southwest Washington and not a slick special interest group that continues to rely on mistruths and falsehoods.

Katy Sword

I cover the city of Vancouver and federal politics. Reach me at katy.sword@columbian.com.

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