Last updateWed, 27 Aug 2014 10am


The current House of Representatives may be one of the most environmentally unfriendly legislatures in U.S. history, but at least its lawmakers know how to make a bill sound good.

As a farewell gesture to the 113th House, we’ve rounded up some of its most egregious measures and translated them to reveal what they’d actually mean for public lands and wildlife in the West.

For the record, all of these are currently stalled in the Senate.

Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act

H.R. 4899. Introduced by Doc Hastings, R-Wash.; passed June 26, 2014.

What It Claims

To decrease foreign energy dependency and lower gas prices “for the American family.”

What It Would Actually Do

Open the Arctic to mandatory annual petroleum leasing and nullify the historic 2013 decision to set aside key parts of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for migratory shorebirds, polar bears and other wildlife.

The Water Rights Protection Act

H.R. 3189. Introduced by Scott Tipton, R-Colo.; passed March 13, 2014.

What It Claims

To give ski areas on public lands more control over their water rights and prevent Forest Service overreach.

What It Would Actually Do

Potentially undermine Endangered Species Act protections by stripping federal agencies of their power to maintain minimum stream flows for fish and wildlife.

Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act

H.R. 1526. Introduced by Doc Hastings, R-Wash.; passed Sept. 20, 2013.

What It Claims

To reduce wildfire risk and create thousands of timber-related jobs.

What It Would Actually Do

Require the Forest Service to designate “revenue areas” in each national forest, and log at least half of each area, absent of public input or environmental review. In Montana, for example, more than 14 million acres of forests, including Wilderness Study Areas and roadless areas, could be opened to new logging projects.

Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act

H.R. 2641. Introduced by Tom Marino, R-Pa.; passed March 6, 2014.

What It Claims

To create construction and development jobs by setting hard deadlines for environmental reviews.

What It Would Actually Do

Fast-track National Environmental Policy Act requirements, and limit environmental lawsuits on new development.

Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act

H.R. 1459. Introduced by Rob Bishop, R-Utah; passed March 26, 2014.

What It Claims

To ensure that cost-benefit analysis is considered in the designation of national monuments.

What It Would Actually Do

Highly restrict the president’s authority to designate national monuments—a right, originally granted in 1906, that’s helped permanently protect millions of acres of public land.

Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act

H.R. 5078. Introduced by Steve Southerland, R-Fla.; passed Sept. 9, 2014.

What It Claims

To ensure that water-quality regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency don’t hamstring farmers.

What It Would Actually Do

Revoke Clean Water Act clarifications passed earlier this year to protect tributaries and ephemeral rivers from industrial and agricultural pollution.

Electricity Security and Affordability Act

H.R. 3826. Introduced by Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.; passed March 6, 2014.

What It Claims

To provide cheaper electricity.

What It Would Actually Do

Roll back long-awaited EPA regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-burning power plants.

Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act

H.R. 935. Introduced by Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio; passed July 31, 2014.

What It Claims

To “reduce burdensome regulations without rolling back any environmental safeguards,” according to Gibbs.

What It Would Actually Do

Allow farms to discharge regulated pesticides into navigable waterways without a permit.

This story originally appeared in High Country News.

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