Sen. Dean Heller guest col: Jeb Bush is best for the West
As an early 2016 primary contest and the first west of the Mississippi, Nevada has a unique opportunity to express which presidential candidate is “best for the West.” With more than 85 percent of our land under the watch of federal landlords, there’s no other state in the lower 48 more directly affected by policies and decision making coming out of Washington, D.C., than our state.
Nevada plays host to some of the nation’s most beautiful natural treasures like Lake Tahoe, Red Rock Canyon, and Great Basin National Park. But public lands can also pose unique challenges. As presidential candidates weave in and out of our state thirsty for your vote, it’s important they share with us their vision on important western issues such as water, public lands management, wildfire, drought, and natural resource development.
Earlier this week, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush rolled out an aggressive western policy agenda here in the Silver State. I believe his proposals demonstrate why he’s by far the best candidate for the west and should be the next President of the United States.
Jeb wants “a new relationship with the west.” A relationship based on the fundamental premise those who have grown up here and lived off the land know what’s best — not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. In fact, Jeb would move the Department of the Interior’s headquarters out west so decision makers are able to stay close to the people they affect.
Jeb’s plan institutes a federalist approach to resource management. For example, state fish and wildlife management agencies, like the Nevada Department of Wildlife, will be given the opportunity to adopt their own strategies and plans to protect and recover at-risk species such as the greater sage-grouse or the desert tortoise, while continuing to manage big game populations like mule deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. Again, locals know their land best.
As Governor of Florida, Jeb instituted a “no net loss of sportsmen’s access” policy and protected Second Amendment rights under his watch. He plans to implement similar policies at the federal level, which is extremely important to our western way of life. Camping, horseback riding, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities, played large roles in my upbringing and remain important activities for all of us here in Nevada. It’s critical future generations have similar means to enjoy our great outdoors.
Rather than perpetually seeking to acquire more land as the current land under its control literally goes up in flames year after year, Jeb would ensure the federal land management agencies take better care of what they already have. Our public lands desperately need restoration work like hazardous fuels reduction, infrastructure repairs, and watershed rehabilitation. Jeb’s investment in the maintenance backlog will reduce wildfire risk, improve public safety, and increase economic opportunities while protecting the environment.
Jeb and I share a desire to restore sanity to the federal permitting process. In Nevada, much of our future growth for important economic drivers like mining and renewable energy development is on federal lands. And our state can’t capitalize on that potential without new transmission and infrastructure development. Under current policies, a big project, such as a new mine, can take nearly 10 years to permit. Jeb will implement a “two years is enough” permitting policy, placing a “shot clock” on federal action for natural resources and infrastructure development. These reforms will spur economic development and increase economic competitiveness by enhancing efficiency.
As president, Jeb Bush will implement policies that respect our local values, needs, and our western way of life. That’s one of the many reasons why I’m endorsing him to be our next president.
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, from Carson City, can be reached through his website at http://www.heller.senate.gov.