On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) announced introduction of legislation that will help assuage some of the financial hardship borne by state and local taxpayers in protecting the community while armed militants occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
While this situation has been costly in innumerable ways for the local community, the BurnsPaiute Tribe, the state, and the federal government, it has cost state and local law enforcement agencies an estimated $100,000 per week. Ultimately, the federal government’s decisions about timing and manner of putting a stop to this ordeal have contributed to these costs. Congressman Blumenauer’s legislation would allow the federal government to ease that burden by requiring the Department of Justice to quickly reimburse state and local law enforcement agencies up front for costs associated with responding to the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Following the reimbursement, the legislation allows the U.S. Attorney General to seek to recover the federal government’s costs by bringing civil action against the armed militia members to make sure the taxpayers aren’t on the hook. Placing the burden of these costs on these armed militants will send a strong signal that an armed takeover of federal land is unacceptable, and not without consequences.
“It must be made clear that armed takeover of government or private facilities, for grievances real or imagined, is absolutely unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. … It’s not just enough to enforce the law. We should recover damages from lawbreakers who tear up the landscape, degrade wildlife habitat, and destroy property. … When we talk in trillions here in Washington, DC, maybe talk of $100,000 here or a million dollars there doesn’t sound like very much, but to the state of Oregon, it matters. For this small community, a few hundred thousand dollars has a significant impact on the local taxpayer. They shouldn’t be made to pay the bill,” Congressman Blumenauer said on the House floor.
Since the beginning of the occupation, Congressman Blumenauer has called for swift response to stop the armed insurrection at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in defense of our public lands.
Today, in his remarks, he further emphasized the importance of our public lands and said, “This is a call to action for Americans who treasure our public spaces – our parks, forests, range lands, marine sanctuaries. These are treasures that belong to all Americans. It’s important for us to understand what we have and what’s at stake for forces that would threaten our heritage.”
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