Inhofe Praises Passage of National Defense Authorization Act for 53rd Consecutive Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today praised the Senate passage of H.R. 3979, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2015. Inhofe coauthored the legislation with SASC Chairman Carl Levin, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA-25), and HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA-9) It now awaits to be signed into law by the president.

“Today Congress stood in strong bipartisan support for our nation’s over 2.1 million men and women in uniform by passing for the National Defense Authorization Act for the 53rdconsecutive year,” Inhofe said. “Our military make brave and honorable sacrifices every day in defense of the nation and our interests around the world. This legislation ensures that America keeps its promise to care and provide for our servicemembers and their families with necessary benefits as well as proper training and adequate resources to carry out assigned missions effectively and safely. This year’s NDAA contains several provisions benefiting the state of Oklahoma and the communities that support our five military installations. To name a few, this legislation protects the fleet of AWACS at Tinker Air Force Base, maintains the delivery of the KC-46A to Altus Air Force Base by 2016, and supports the modernization and integration of the Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer in Elgin, Okla. It was a great honor working on this legislation as the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee with my good friend, Sen. Carl Levin. I look forward to continuing to serve on the committee in the new Congress and fighting to overturn the draconian defense cuts put in motion by the President’s sequestration.”

Regarding the lands package attached to the NDAA, Inhofe said, “While the lands package should have been voted on as stand-alone legislation, I had to make a difficult decision to allow its inclusion to ensure the consideration of the defense authorization bill. I believe the lands package would have passed on its own merits as it includes a number of victories for conservatives across the nation. It supports our ranchers by addressing the 5,900 backlogged grazing permits waiting consideration by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It removes 110,000 acres from federal ownership to be used for economic development and does not give the government authority to condemn private lands. It makes permanent a pilot program that streamlines federal oil and gas permits, which was established in 2005 and set to expire next year. his provision will help reverse the trend of permit approvals falling 43 percent under the Obama Administration by giving BLM resources where it needs them. Above all, this lands package is a jobs creator and will continue to advance America towards energy independence.” 

Inhofe championed and supported a number of provisions in the FY’15 NDAA to include the following:

Base Realignment and Closure Prohibition

Inhofe supported language that makes clear that nothing in the FY’15 NDAA shall be construed to authorize a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round next year. Inhofe believes that the United States has reduced force capability to an unacceptable level, and that it should not be brought down any further in the near-term. He also recognizes that our national security has an immediate fiscal crisis and the defense community should not bear the near-term costs of a BRAC round in this tough economic climate for savings that will not be realized for another 20 years.

Retaining AWACS

Inhofe supported language that will prohibit the Air Force from retiring or preparing to retire any Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft or making any significant changes in AWACS personnel levels for fiscal year 2015. For the past two decades, AWACS have been under constant, heavy demand, supporting overseas contingency operations as well as homeland defense missions.

The president’s budget proposal reduced the number of AWACS airplanes by seven aircraft (or 25 percent), which would inactivate the 513th Reserve Control Group at Tinker Air Force Base and devastate a key military capability.  This 520-member unit is the only one in the Air Force Reserves that flies and maintains this aircraft. Inhofe's amendment prevents this from taking place.

“The E-3 AWACS has for decades been an Air Force First Responder to crises and conflicts across the globe,” Col. Mark Tarpley (ret.), president of Air Force Association Gerrity Chapter, said. “It remains an essential ingredient in the Air Force’s capability and is a force enabler for all aspects of air power.  Reductions to the size and capability of the AWACS fleet could significantly impact our Armed Forces in future conflict and jeopardize America’s national security interests. I am very appreciative of Sen. Inhofe’s efforts to maintain this aircraft with unique capabilities.”

“After having experienced AWACS operations since 1980, to include line pilot and as a group and wing commander, AWACS capability is important to our warfighting capability globally,” Brig. Gen. Ben Robinson (ret.), former commander of 552nd Air Control Wing, said.  “Any decision to reduce our AWACS capability worldwide should not be taken lightly. I am very appreciative of Sen. Inhofe’s work to save the AWACS and the unique capabilities provided by this aircraft.”

Installation Support Services Agreements

Because current authority to implement military installation shared services agreements conflicts with existing acquisition rules and regulations, there have been major delays in implementing intergovernmental support agreements, including the partnership plans between Tinker Air Force Base and Midwest City.  The Department of Defense (DOD) and Congress have agreed that a clarification is necessary to ensure the authority of shared services survives. Inhofe successfully included clarification language to restore the advancement of such shared services agreements like the waste management agreement between Tinker and Midwest City.

“This shared services agreement regarding waste management services for commercial routes between Tinker and Midwest City will save the installation hundreds of thousands of dollars each year; dollars that can be applied directly toward other national security related programs,” Tim Lyon, assistant Midwest City manager in charge of Tinker/Midwest City Partnership Programs, said. “It will provide a baseline example that other military installations can use nationwide. It is a win-win for Midwest City because this agreement also defrays overhead costs to the city thus keeping waste collection rates low for all of our city residents.  We thank Sen. Inhofe for his leadership on this issue.” 

“This improved version of the Installation Support Services Intergovernmental Services Agreement will further pave the way for increased force readiness and capability, while at the same time allowing DOD, the Services and communities to reduce waste, service redundancies and overall installation costs,” Mike Cooper, vice president and president-Elect of Association of Defense Communities, said. “Sen. Inhofe has been a tremendous champion of this legislation, working closely with ADC, the Services and DOD to ensure that this authority can be used successfully by defense community leaders and installation managers.” 

Natural Gas Vehicles

Inhofe included language that incentivizes the production of natural gas powered vehicles by allowing automakers to earn regulatory credits for producing dual-fuel powered vehicles that run on both natural gas and gasoline. Current law allows automakers to earn credits from vehicles that run exclusively on natural gas, but a cap on dual-fuel credits precludes automakers from earning them for natural gas dual-fuel automobiles.

These natural gas dual-fuel automobiles are widely seen as the key to encouraging broad consumer adoption of natural gas as a primary transportation fuel.  Today, in many places there is not enough natural gas refueling infrastructure to ease drivers' concerns that they will be unable to find a natural gas refueling station when they need it. Automakers are beginning to produce these vehicles and they deserve to earn the regulatory credits that were designed for them to facilitate compliance with the Department of Transportation’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

C-130 Air Modernization Program (AMP)

The president’s FY’15 budget failed to include funding for the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP). AMP was the program of record for modernizing legacy C-130 aircraft until the FY’13 budget when the Air Force announced a decision to cancel AMP. The program was already in low-rate initial production and had delivered five aircraft, four additional kits and training devices. The proposed avionics modernization alternatives to the AMP program fail to fully comply with future air space restrictions and will impact the Air Force’s ability to use certain airfields as a result of the incompatible equipment. Inhofe included language that stresses strong support for continuing the modernization of this aircraft, authorizes an additional $35.8 million for procurement and installation of C-130 AMP kits, and directs the Air Force to obligate the FY’14 funds authorized and appropriated for AMP to conduct such activities as are necessary to complete testing, production and installation of the modernization kits. This will allow companies such as Boeing in Oklahoma City to ensure an operational capability of the C-130 fleet.

“The C-130 Avionics Modernization Program has already proven its value to the warfighters and taxpayers by providing greatly enhanced reliability and operational flexibility to the C-130 fleet in a cost-effective way,” Jim O’Neill, president of Boeing’s Global Services & Support, said. “Sen. Inhofe’s support for continuing this important upgrade program ensures that Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard flight crews will be able to reliably and safely carry out vital missions utilizing the latest in avionics technology available at an affordable price.”

KC-46

Inhofe supported full funding of $1.56 billion for the KC-46A tanker aircraft.  This funding will keep delivery of the first KC-46A to Altus Air Force Base on track for 2016.

"This represents a massive step forward for our national defense, and we applaud Sen. Inhofe’s dedicated leadership to broker such an important agreement,” Dr. Joe Leverett, chairman of Altus Military Affairs Committee, said. “Maintaining the KC-46A delivery schedule is essential to our nation's ability to project global power, and the Altus community anxiously awaits the delivery of the first aircraft and the airmen who will train here. We stand ready to support the KC-46A mission and that of Altus Air Force Base in every way." 

Paladin Integrated Management Program (PIM)

The Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program is key to the modernization of the Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer and the U.S. artillery force. Inhofe supported the Army’s request of $330.7 million for the continued development and prototyping of the next generation Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery system. The modernization and integration is completed at the BAE System facility in Elgin, Okla.

“BAE Systems is extremely pleased that Sen. Inhofe and the Senate Armed Services Committee have expressed their support for the M109A7 (PIM) program,” Erwin Bieber, president of BAE Systems Inc. Land and Armaments, said. “As the M109A7 enters low rate initial production it leverages the latest technology and commonality within the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) to ensure the long term viability and sustainability of the M109 family of vehicles. The M109A7 upgrade ensures that our Soldiers have the most advanced howitzer to provide timely, accurate, and responsive fire support for the ABCT.”

"Sen. Inhofe has consistently been a strong supporter of the Paladin Integrated Management Program,” Larry Thoma, mayor of the City of Elgin, Okla., said. “The city of Elgin is glad to see this program nearing completion and we are very thankful to have the Senator on our side.  Sen. Inhofe played an integral part in providing the funding for this program and without his support this would not be a reality." 

Camp Gruber

Due to Camp Gruber's limited maneuver training space on the west range and lack of duded impact area, Oklahoma Army National Guard (OKARNG) combat and support units training at the squad and below level are severely degraded. Some units cannot even perform training due to lack of maneuver space for heavy vehicles and lack of duded impact area for crew live fire certifications. The lack of training range availability at Fort Sill and Camp Chaffee has resulted in delays in training, inability to plan training events and missed training events. OKARNG is requesting reacquisition of East Range of Camp Gruber consisting of 31,284 acres of training space, including duded impact area of 6,000 acres. OKARNG sought Inhofe’s assistance in expanding their training capability at Camp Gruber. In response, Inhofe successfully included language that, upon a determination of the Secretary of the Army, authorizes the transfer of the administrative jurisdiction of East Range of Camp Gruber to the Department of the Army so that the OKARNG may train there permanently.

"Camp Gruber is extremely important to the National Guard and has been for many years,” Major General Myles L. Deering, adjutant general of Oklahoma Army National Guard, said. “This effort will greatly enhance our ability to provide Soldiers with the best quality training and ensures our capacity to provide the State of Oklahoma and the Army with the highest quality Citizen-Soldiers."

Transfer of MC-12 Aircraft to the Oklahoma Air National Guard

Inhofe secured language in the NDAA that authorizes the transfer of up to 13 MC-12 aircraft from the Air Force to the Oklahoma Air National Guard to be flown in support of U.S. Special Operations Command’s requirements to train partner nation militaries as well as conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment

Inhofe supported $1.25 billion for a National Guard and Reserve Equipment account needed to sustain and modernize the National Guard and Reserve Components as an operational reserve and for their domestic support missions.

National Guard Counter Drug Program

Since 1989, the National Guard has worked with law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations to perform interdiction and anti-drug activities.  The National Guard Counter Drug Program (NGCDP) operates in 54 states and territories. Approximately 2,500 soldiers and airmen support more than 5,000 agencies at the local, state and federal levels to prevent illicit drugs from being imported, manufactured and distributed in the United States. Inhofe supported continued funding of the NGCDP and included report language noting the role of the NGCDP mission in ensuring the security of the U.S. Homeland and recognizing the benefits of maintaining and supporting the National Guard counterdrug strategy.

"NGAUS thanks Sen. Inhofe for his unwavering support of the National Guard Counter-drug State Programs and regional Training Centers, and looks to his continuing leadership in keeping this well-established successful community-based program viable long into the future," Gus Hargett, president of the National Guard Association of the United States, said. 

Housing for Low-Income or Disabled Veterans (HAVEN Act)

This Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program will allow non-profit organizations like Rebuilding Together Oklahoma City, to rehabilitate homes of disabled and low-income veterans.  This work will revitalize lives and neighborhoods by making homes safe, warm and dry for Oklahoma’s older veteran community.  Inhofe supported an amendment by Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that includes authorization of their HAVEN Act bill, S. 1387, which creates a pilot program to expand this meritorious and noble undertaking by organizations like Rebuilding Together Oklahoma City.

“Rebuilding Together Oklahoma City greatly appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s support of S. 1387 and efforts to ensure the HAVEN Act is part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Implementation of the HAVEN Act will allow Rebuilding Together Oklahoma City to better serve our veterans,” Jennifer Thurman, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Oklahoma City, said.

Military Construction

Inhofe supported authorization of $6.3 billion for needed military construction and family housing projects. This includes $111 million for KC-46A construction at Tinker Air Force Base.

Enhancing Support for Victims of Sexual Assault

Inhofe supported the inclusion of 15 provisions to enhance protections for victims of sexual assault by extending eligibility to receive assistance from a special victims’ counsel, increasing victims’ opportunity to have their views heard when commanders are deciding how alleged offenses are handled and enhancing victim privacy protections.

Extending Benefits for Veterans

Inhofe supported the inclusion of language that extended the Secretary of Veterans Affairs authority to provide benefits to service members with severe illnesses or injuries.

Impact Aid

Inhofe successfully ensured the inclusion of language that authorizes $25 million in supplemental Impact Aid to local educational agencies with military dependent children.  The language also includes an additional $5 million in Impact Aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities.

“Unlike pork or entitlement programs, Impact Aid simply compensates local school districts for property tax revenue lost as the result of a military base,” Tom Deighan, Superintendent of Lawton Public Schools, said. “And without these payments, schools like Lawton Public Schools could not adequately serve the families of our nation’s heroes. I stand behind and thank Sen. Inhofe for protecting these funds which directly and efficiently serve our military children.”

“Sen. Inhofe’s successful inclusion of language that would authorize $25 million in supplemental Impact Aid to local educational agencies with military dependent children is to be highly commended,” Bryan P. Long, City Manager of the City of Lawton, said. “His direct actions and support of military installments and their communities is second only to his passion for providing the much needed financial support that will directly benefit our military families and youngest citizens. We applaud Sen. Inhofe’s tireless work and dedication on this noteworthy achievement.”

Reforms in Small Business 8(a) Contracting

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ current two-phase selection process for design-build contracts results in Small Business Administration Section 8(a) certified firms not being able to be awarded more design-build contracts.  This greatly impacts the Corps district offices’ ability to service their customers and affects their ability to execute projects to ensure that DOD is able to receive its mission-critical project.  There are a significant number of Oklahoma companies that are currently severely impacted negatively by this Corps directive.  Therefore, Inhofe included language that amends the authority for the Services Secretaries of the Air Force, Navy and Army to use one-step turn-key selection procedures, and raises the threshold to greater than $4 million when making a determination that inclusion of more than five contractors in the second phase of such solicitations is in the best interests of the federal government.

"The Ross Group appreciates the continued leadership that Sen. Inhofe provides on behalf of our nation, the DOD and Oklahomans,” Warren Ross, CEO/president of The Ross Group, said. “His willingness to provide clarifying language to a vague interpretation of the Federal Code will enable the Department of Defense and the contractors that support it to get back to work supporting our troops. This language will enable the military bases throughout Oklahoma to continue to be responsive to our nation’s needs; thereby, continuing to create jobs for Oklahoma companies that support them." 

"Great thanks is due to Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Bridenstine for their tremendous leadership in getting this common-sense approach to contracting adopted in both the Senate and House passed versions of the FY’15 NDAA,” Ben Kimbro, EVP of Tactical Electronics, said. ‘This measure will strengthen our nation's military readiness and Oklahoma's ability to continue to play an integral part in that process."  

Commissaries

In response to the proven primary benefit commissaries provide to servicemembers and their families, Inhofe secured language in the bill that will not allow an increase to commissary prices so customer savings are preserved for military families and retirees.  It will instead require the commissaries to become more efficient with a slight reduction in their budget.  

Cyber Security Research

Today’s weaponry is highly sophisticated and cyber-enabled, resulting in a distributed yet connected battlefield.  The need for rapid communication and accurate situational awareness requires the warfighter to maintain guarantees that the weaponry is resistant to known cyber-attacks and resilient to unknown cyber-attacks. By accurately understanding and acknowledging the threat landscape of current and future weaponry, better safeguards and threat tolerant mechanisms can be created to adapt to legacy systems and be designed into future systems.  The University of Tulsa (TU) has a long history of excellence in cyber security research and education, and was designated by the NSA as a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education in 2000, in Information Assurance Research in 2009 and in Cyber Operations in 2012.  That makes TU one of only four institutions in the U.S. with all three designations.  Inhofe included $80 million in extra funding for basic research initiatives that qualified schools like TU can utilize.   

“TU faculty and students are committed to the development of cutting-edge cyber security that improves the safety of all Americans,” Steadman Upham, president of University of Tulsa, said. “We are pleased to learn of Sen. Inhofe’s leadership and support along with the prospect of new funding for cyber defense research.  Advancement of this legislation will provide our research teams with the critical resources needed to protect Americans from threatening cyber-attacks.”

US Naval Sea Cadet Corps

The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps (USNSCC) makes significant contributions in the development of our nation’s youth, the recruitment efforts of the U.S. Navy and the awareness of the Navy and its mission.  Since its inception in 1958, the USNSCC has trained over 170,000 young Americans.  Today it continues to prepare America’s youth to become productive and patriotic citizens.  The USNSCC also contributes directly to the recruiting mission of the U.S. Navy. Over 11 percent of the most recent class at the U.S. Naval Academy were former cadets, and a total of 626 cadets accessed into military service in 2013. Inhofe supported increasing funding for USNSCC by $1.1 million.

“The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps is very appreciative of the outstanding and sustained support shown by Sen. Inhofe and his staff,” U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Executive Director, CAPT James Monahan of USN (Ret.), said. “Full program funding ensures that our cadets receive unparalleled training in leadership and naval skills that will prepare them to be the next generation of leaders in our armed services, schools and communities. We are tremendously grateful for Sen. Inhofe’s support of our nation’s U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.”

Professional Credentials to Soldiers

Inhofe supported a provision that would establish a program in DOD that will enable servicemembers to obtain professional civilian credentials that relate to their specific training and skills acquired during their military service so they can be easily transferred into civilian occupations once they leave the military.  This program will assist with the expenses connected with a soldier obtaining a professional accreditation, federal occupational license, state-imposed professional license or professional certification.

“Oklahoma and our industry benefit from Sen. Inhofe’s strong leadership to streamline service member’s transition to the private sector,” Jay Hawkins, vice president of Human Resources at Chesapeake Energy, said. “Chesapeake’s veteran employees have an unmatched work ethic, commitment to teamwork, and leadership skills which benefit our company on a daily basis.”

Special Use Airspace

Recent guidance from the Office of the Secretary of Defense regarding use of Special Use Airspace (SUA) above military installations like Ft. Sill, Okla., is being interpreted by the Army Aeronautical Services Agency to indicate that use of such airspace by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for DHS Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) program is not allowed.  Clarification is needed so that promising government-related programs like RAPS can use the SUA.  Therefore, Inhofe included language directing DOD to issue guidance clarifying policies on the appropriate management of special use airspace within DOD, and on policies governing access by users from outside DOD to special use airspace managed by DOD within 90 days of enactment of NDAA.  It also directs the Secretary of Defense to move expeditiously to correct such misunderstandings of guidelines on access to special use airspace, including the authority of local commanders to enter into a memorandum of understanding for the use of special use airspace by any department or agency of the federal government, or state governments, to include those engaged in the Federal Aviation Administration test range program, participating in the RAPS program or participating in other activities of a similar nature.          

Family Medium Tactical Vehicles

The Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) is a complete series of trucks and trailers, based on a common chassis, that vary by payload.  The president’s budget request for the base budget included no funding for the FMTV.  However, Inhofe supported the president’s budget request for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) of $95.6 million for FMTV procurement.  Additionally, Inhofe supported a $50 million add for FMTV procurement in the base budget.

US Governance over the Internet

Inhofe included in the NDAA bill a sense of Congress stating that the Secretary of Defense should advise the president not to transfer the remaining role of the U.S. Government in internet governance unless he is confident that the “.MIL” top-level domain and Internet Protocol address numbers used exclusively by DOD for national security will remain exclusively used by DOD. 

Facilitate Transition from Military to Civilian Life

Inhofe included a provision that would require the Secretary of Defense to develop procedures to share specified information on servicemembers who are separating from the military with state veterans agencies in electronic data format as a means of facilitating the transition of members of the military from service to civilian life.

Limitations on Biofuels

Inhofe included language that requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a business case analysis to the congressional defense committees before entering into a contract for the planning, design, refurbishing or construction of a biofuel refinery.

Alternative fuels

Inhofe included language that requires the fully-burdened costs of all drop-in fuels for operational purposes to be cost-competitive with the fully-burdened cost of a traditional fuel.

Report on options to modernize or replace T–1A aircraft

The T-1 aircraft used to train pilots at our Air Force pilot training bases, to include Vance Air Force Base (AFB) in Enid, Okla., are aging and will need to be replaced.  The NDAA includes language that would require the Secretary of the Air Force to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the options for replacing or upgrading the T-1A aircraft’s capability, to include options of leased aircraft or services, not later than 90 days after the president signs the NDAA into law.  These new aircraft, once procured will be used to train new pilots at Vance AFB.

Advanced Pilot Training (APT)

The Advanced Pilot Training (APT) family of systems will replace the T-38C and its ground based training simulators.  The T-38C, whose average age is over 45 years, is used to train student pilots at Air Force pilot training bases who have been selected to fly fighters and bombers as well as transition new Air Force pilots into fighters in the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals training course.  The NDAA includes funding for research and development of the new T-X trainer which, when acquired, will be flown at Vance AFB.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Permit Processing

The NDAA included language that makes permanent a 2005 federal lands streamlining permit program that would have expired at the end of FY’15.  Annual drilling permit approvals have fallen 43 percent under the Obama Administration.  Since 2009, oil production has fallen 6 percent on federal lands while it has increased by more than 60 percent on private lands.  For natural gas, production has fallen by 28 percent on federal lands while it has increased 33 percent on private lands.  This legislation will remedy this differential by giving BLM resources where it needs them. 

“This successful permitting program plays an essential role as independent producers consider future American energy opportunities on federal lands,” Dan Naatz, senior vice president of Government Relations and Political Affairs of IPAA, said. “Specifically, it will increase new oil and natural gas production on federal lands by reducing permit delays and allow greater flexibility for the federal government to respond to the changing needs of the industry. IPAA is encouraged by the Senate’s action on behalf of America’s independent oil and gas producers and we thank Sen. Inhofe for his leadership on this important issue.”

“We applaud Sen. Inhofe for continuing to be a champion of America’s energy sector,”Rebecca Rosen, vice president of Policy and Government Affairs of Devon Energy, said.“The Sen. understands what this common sense bill is all about: increasing energy production. The inclusion of S.2440 in the National Defense Authorization Act will create certainty for companies that operate on federal lands, and will lead to greater efficiency in the BLM field offices, where permitting timeframes and production have lagged dramatically behind state and private lands.”

“By extending the BLM pilot program, this legislation will help to ease the permitting delays that hold back energy development on federal lands,” Erik Milito, director of Upstream and Industry Operations of API, said. “Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues are to be commended for crafting a final package that will create jobs and advance America’s long-term growth as a global energy superpower.”

“We greatly appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s leadership shown by including the BLM Pilot-Project Program reauthorization in the National Defense Authorization Act,” Gordon Pennoyer, director of strategic communications of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, said.“This will help expedite federal permitting and allow for more timely and efficient development of America’s energy resources.”

“The passage of the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 (ACT) as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act is a positive move for the oil and gas industry, the USA and its citizens” J Roger Kelley, director of regulatory affairs of Continental Resources, Inc., said. “The backlog of oil and gas drilling permit approvals has been detrimental to all three of these stakeholders, as the development of energy is mutually beneficial to each.  We believe that the Act will greatly enhance the permitting process by providing much needed fiscal resources to the Bureau of Land Management to make additions to their permitting workforce.  At the same time the Act provides an accountability process that will ensure that these fiscal resources are used appropriately and efficiently. The greater benefit of the Act is that energy will be developed in a more timely manner, energy revenue to the American people will be increased substantially, and the United States of America will be closer to becoming energy independent. We appreciate all that the Senator has done and all that he can do to ensure the passage of this Act.”

Grazing Improvement

As of September, there were 5,900 permits backlogged, awaiting consideration by the BLM.  The NDAA included language that makes permanent an annually renewed provision that allows public grazing permits to be renewed even while statutorily required environmental analyses are conducted, as required every ten years. The provision also provides a categorical exclusion from further National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses where current grazing management practices continue and where land is meeting appropriate health standards.  This language allows ranchers to continue grazing these lands with renewed permits even while the NEPA analyses remains incomplete. 

“The grazing provisions included in NDAA are critical for the stability and livelihood of the 22,000 ranching families that hold grazing permits in the West,” Dustin Van Liew, executive director of the Public Lands Council and Federal Lands for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, said. “Mr. Inhofe’s support is greatly appreciated as it helps ensure the vitality of our natural resources by making sure those who care for the land, can remain in operation. ”

"Oklahoma Cattlemen members appreciate Sen. Inhofe's commitment in supporting US cattle farmers and ranchers,” Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association, said. “The inclusion of the grazing provision language in the National Defense Authorization Act proves his leadership on cattlemen’s issues and his understanding that U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers are the true original stewards of our precious natural grass resources."

“We at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau applaud Sen. Inhofe for his continued agriculture leadership in the Senate,” Tom Buchanan, president of Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said.“The Grazing Improvement Act’s inclusion in the final legislation proves his understanding of the challenges facing farmers and ranchers across the country.”

“We appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s leadership and commitment on these issues critical to the livelihood of American farmers and ranchers,” Bob Stallman, president of American Farm Bureau Federation, said. “These provisions will be particularly helpful to western ranchers who use federal grazing permits. Most importantly, federal land grazing permits will no longer suffer from bureaucratic delays and permit denials simply because the government has not completed an environmental analysis of the land in question. Sen. Inhofe’s language would also streamline the law so that multiple allotments can be analyzed simultaneously, making the entire grazing program work more efficiently.  These policy changes would give more certainty to struggling rural families and their communities, particularly in the West, where about half the land is federally owned. We applaud Sen. Inhofe’s efforts and are pleased at the positive impact these changes will have for western farmers and ranchers.”

Mining

The NDAA included language that will allow the development of the third largest copper mine in the world, which is expected to create 3,700 jobs, create $61.4 billion in economic activity, and generate $20 billion in federal, state, county and local tax revenue.  Language included also allows the development of a new coal mine.

Private Lands

The NDAA included language that will remove 110,000 acres from federal ownership to be used for economic development in addition to community development projects, and does not give the government authority to condemn private lands. 

Military Working Dogs

Military Working Dogs (MWD) are an important element in support of U.S. Armed Forces and have been important to DOD in support of military training and combat operations.  The 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base consolidates training for MWDs across DOD and other federal agencies.  This current collaborative effort in the field of MWD training and research should continue, as well as coordinated efforts between DOD, federal agencies, the veterinary community, universities and other research centers that provide useful mission support. Inhofe included Senate report language that encourages DOD to continue to develop its MWD training and research efforts and expand its interaction specifically with universities such as Oklahoma State University’s Canine Conditioning Program, which is on the cutting edge of MWD research and development in order to better serve our nation’s security and combat capabilities.

Radiation Dosimeters

Exposure to radiation presents two principal health concerns to our soldiers: acute radiation sickness and an increased risk of developing cancer. Dosimetry can help forecast the type, severity and expected time of onset of symptoms, information needed to predict a soldier’s fitness for duty and provide combat readiness evidence.  The Army has 10,000 personal dosimeters in its inventory consisting of 2,000 dosimeters purchased in 2013 and 8,000 dosimeters based on 1960s technology that is no longer in production.  These 8,000 systems are unable to be repaired due to a lack of spare parts during a time of growing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons in the possession of state and potentially non-state actors in the future.  In response, Inhofe included Senate report language in the bill that directs the Secretary of the Army to submit a report or provide a briefing to him on the requirements and plan to upgrade and/or acquire new personal dosimeter systems.  This will have a great impact on Oklahoma State University, which has helped to develop state-of-the-art technology in the personal radiation dosimeter arena.

“Oklahoma State University has a long, proud history of supporting America’s defense efforts through research that has saved lives and improved performance,” Burn Hargis, president of Oklahoma State University, said. “We welcome the opportunity to use our veterinary center’s expertise in canine performance and our knowledge in radiation monitoring to once again serve our nation’s military needs. Oklahoma State University appreciates the leadership of Sen. Inhofe and the Committee on Armed Services.”

Distributed Mission Operations

The Air Force is providing its warfighters the ability to train and operate in a realistic virtual environment -- instead of a costly actual flight-training environment -- using the real world operational systems they would use in an actual combat situation under its Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) program.  The DMO facilitates networked unit-level training at the operational and strategic levels with a high degree of theater realism. Inhofe’s Senate report language directs the Secretary of the Air Force to provide a plan that identifies current and planned fielding of the DMO program across the total force, including locations and schedules for installation of DMO simulators and associated equipment.  This would allow for a simulator centers to be located in Tulsa, Okla., with the 138th Air National Guard Fighter Wing.

Air Force Weather Training Modernization

The Air Force Weather Agency makes significant contributions in improving combat effectiveness for our war fighters. Inhofe successfully included Senate report language that stresses the importance of the Air Force’s need to continue to modernize its weather training programs to be able to continue that crucial contribution.  With this language, the Air Force is able to take advantage of different training regimes as it modernizes its training programs, including entering into or expanding cooperative programs with colleges and universities that have meteorological training program expertise.  This would impact schools, such as the University of Oklahoma, which has a renowned meteorology program.

“I would like to thank Sen. Inhofe for his continued stewardship of the National Weather Center Enterprise,” Berrien Moore III, VP, Weather & Climate Programs dean, college of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences, Chesapeake Energy Corp. chair in Climate Studies director of National Weather Center, said. “His support of the nexus of national security and weather prediction training to our nation's armed forces in enhancing their war fighting capabilities are important keys to success. More broadly, Sen. Inhofe understands well that being a Ready Weather Nation is central for national security and economic vitality. We deeply appreciate his steadfast support.”

Combating the Lord’s Resistance Army

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has wreaked havoc upon hundreds of thousands for more than two decades throughout Central Africa, using inhuman tactics such as murder, rape, and the abduction of thousands of children to serve as child soldiers.  In 2009, Inhofe led the successful congressional effort to pass the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act and in 2014 included additional authorization to continue U.S. support to regional partners combating the LRA. In this year’s bill, Inhofe included language that expresses the strong support for these efforts and how U.S. assistance has enabled important progress in removing key LRA commanders from the battlefield and increased defections.  The language also urges DOD to continue its assistance, specifically the provision of enabling key support, such as mobility and targeted intelligence collection and analysis resources.

"Thanks to strong and sustained U.S. support for regional efforts to stop the Lord's Resistance Army, communities in central Africa are closer than ever before to living free of Joseph Kony's violence,” Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, said. “Sen. Inhofe's longstanding commitment to ending the LRA crisis has made this progress possible, and his support for funds in next years' defense authorizations bill is critical to seeing Kony's violence ended once and for all."

###