News Worth Noting: Senate passes Energy and Water Appropriations Bill; Rep. Costa introduces bill to authorize San Luis Unit settlement agreement; CDFW now accepting proposals for Prop 1 restoration grant programs
Senate Passes Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
From the Office of Senator Feinstein:
The Senate today passed the fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill by a vote of 90-8. The bill funds key government agencies including the Department of Energy, the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
“This is the first Energy and Water appropriations bill the Senate has passed under ‘regular order’ since 2009 and I hope it restores the committee’s ability to do its work and pass appropriations bills this year,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. “Chairman Lamar Alexander was a great partner in this effort and a big reason we were able to pass this bill on its own for the first time in six years. I’m hopeful that the strong bipartisan vote is a sign that the Senate’s appropriations process can get back on track.”
The bill includes $100 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Drought Response program to help combat the historic drought in California and other Western states through direct, immediate actions to extend limited water supplies.
“Drought in the West poses a serious threat to the economic and social wellbeing of the United States,” Feinstein said. “This $100 million is critical to operating water systems more flexibly and efficiently, restoring critical wetlands and habitat and ensuring that the best science and monitoring is being brought to bear on this crisis.”
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers: The bill provides $344 million for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fund the nation’s water infrastructure projects in California. Every one dollar spent on Army Corps of Engineer projects nets $16 in economic benefits.
California Ports: The bill provides $50 million for ports, including Los Angeles/Long Beach and other California ports that get shortchanged by the current disbursement formula of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
Bureau of Reclamation: The bill provides $1.275 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation within the Department of Interior to fund water supply projects and programs in the western United States. In addition to the $100 million for urgent drought relief, the bill includes $117.46 million for water projects in California.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs: The bill provides $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. This funding supports sustainable transportation programs that develop new fuels, lightweight materials, and vehicle engines; energy efficiency programs that develop standards and technologies to reduce energy bills; and renewable energy programs that work to lower the cost of solar, wind, geothermal, and water power technologies.
Basic Scientific Research: The bill provides $5.4 billion for the Office of Science, $50 million more than fiscal year 2016. Nearly all Office of Science programs see significant increases and the bill fully funds the requested operational levels of scientific facilities at the national laboratories.
Environmental Cleanup: Cleanup of Cold War and other nuclear sites is funded at $6.4 billion. This program addresses a legacy of radioactive and hazardous contamination at sites across the country and the bill addresses many of the highest environmental risks posed by these sites.
Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: The bill funds the National Nuclear Security Administration at $12.9 billion. Efforts to extend the life of the current nuclear weapons stockpile are fully funded. The Naval Reactor program fully funds the Ohio Class replacement reactor program. Funding for the Nonproliferation program meets the budget request level.
Rep. Costa Introduces Bill to Authorize San Luis Unit Settlement Agreement
From the Office of Congressman Jim Costa:
Today, Representative Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act. The legislation would authorize a settlement agreement concerning the management of drainage water within the San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project (CVP) in California. An agreement was reached in September 2015 between the United States and the Westlands Water District (Westlands), and a separate agreement was recently reached between the United States and the northerly San Luis Unit water and irrigation districts: Pacheco, San Luis, and Panoche Water Districts. This legislation will not affect water allocations for other CVP water contractors.
“Introducing the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act is the next step to ensure that all claims by water districts within the entire San Luis Unit against the United States are resolved,” said Rep. Costa. “Once authorized by law, the settlement agreement reached between the United States and the San Luis Unit districts will end decades of frustration that began when the U.S. government determined it was not going to complete drainage service to the San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project. The passage of the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act in the House and Senate would ensure that the settlement agreement is authorized, and U.S. tax payers will no longer face the burden of the estimated $3.8 billion the federal government is currently obligated to pay. I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues in the House and Senate to get this important legislation passed and signed into law.”
“This legislation would implement a comprehensive drainage solution at the local level for the entire San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project and relieves the United States from costly litigation and the obligation of providing those services,” said Lon M. Martin, General Manager of the San Luis Water District. “The Obama Administration, San Luis Unit water districts, along with Representative Costa have developed legislation to implement the settlement agreements that will protect taxpayers from legal liability and help to preserve the water quality of the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento San Joaquin Bay-Delta.”
In 1960, Congress passed the San Luis Act, authorizing the construction of and operation of the San Luis Unit as a part of CVP with the principal purpose of furnishing water for irrigation of land in Merced, Fresno, and Kings Counties. The San Luis Act expressly conditioned the construction of the San Luis Unit on the provision for drainage facilities. Although changes in cropping patterns and technological advances in irrigation practices have proven beneficial, the drainage problem within the San Luis Unit remains significant.
The United States has a Statutory and court-ordered obligation to manage drainage. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the San Luis Act requires the Secretary of the Interior (the Secretary) to provide drainage to the San Luis Unit of the CVP. There are currently several court cases pending regarding the federal government’s obligation to provide drainage to Westlands.
The San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act would authorize the following provisions which are part of the settlement agreement:
Require the Northerly Districts to assume all responsibility for drainage within their respective boundaries in accordance with all legal requirements under state and federal law.
Require the Northerly Districts to indemnify the U.S. for any damages and pay compensation for claims arising out of litigation related to drainage.
Allow the Northerly Districts to assume title to certain facilities owned by the U.S.
Relieve the U.S. of all statutory obligations to provide drainage to the Northerly Districts.
Relieve the Northerly Districts of their approximate $52.7 million repayment obligation (in April 2015 dollars) for CVP construction charges.
Convert the Northerly Districts water 9(e) water service contracts into 9(d) repayment contracts.
Provide $70 million appropriated/discretionary in funding to assist the Northerly Districts with the completion of the Westside Regional Drainage Plan.
Settle litigation with Westlands land owners and relieve the United States of its potentially multi-billion dollar statutory and court-ordered drainage obligation.
Require Westlands to manage drainage water within its boundaries, in accordance with the federal and California law, and provide Interior the right to cease water deliveries to Westlands if it fails to do so.
Require Westlands to indemnify the U.S. for any damages and pay compensation for landowner claims arising out of the Etchegoinberry litigation.
Relieve Westlands of its existing approximate $375 million ($295 million in April 2015 dollars) repayment obligation for CVP construction charges.
Require Westlands to permanently retire 100,000 acres of land within its boundaries.
Allow Westlands to assume title to certain facilities owned by the U.S.
Authorize the Secretary to convert Westlands’ existing water service contract entered into under section 9(e) of the 1939 to a repayment contract under section 9(d) of the same act.
Cap Westlands contract deliveries at 75% of its CVP contract amount.
CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs
From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for ecosystem restoration and protection projects that fulfill the objectives of Proposition 1.
Approved by California voters in November 2014, Proposition 1 provides funds to implement the three broad objectives of the California Water Action Plan: establishing more reliable water supplies, restoring important species and habitat and creating a more resilient, sustainably managed water resources system (water supply, water quality, flood protection and environment) that can better withstand inevitable and unforeseen pressures in the coming decades.
“There is a significant demand for funding of projects that protect and restore our state’s ecosystems, as evidenced by the initial rollout of our Proposition 1 programs,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The department is planning to continue this momentum by funding projects that complement these efforts and further address critical statewide needs.”
Approved projects will contribute to the objectives of California Water Action Plan, State Wildlife Action Plan, the Delta Plan, California EcoRestore and the fulfillment of CDFW’s mission.
For Fiscal Year 2016-2017, a total of $31.4 million in Proposition 1 funds will be made available through CDFW’s two Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs. The Watershed Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $24 million in projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, while the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $7 million in projects that specifically benefit the Delta.
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.