News Worth Noting, Washington DC edition: Representatives comment on California water legislation, San Luis drainage settlement, pesticides and the Clean Water Act

California House GOP issues statement on California water legislation

From the Office of Congressmember Kevin McCarthy:

McCarthyThis week, the House of Representatives will vote twice on California water legislation (H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015).

First, the House will vote on the House amendment to S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, which will include H.R. 2898. In addition, the House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 5055, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017 which also includes provisions from H.R. 2898.

Both pieces of legislation are expected to move to conference with the Senate.

On Monday, Republican Members of the California Delegation issued the following statement:
“California House Republicans are prepared to lead Congress this week in major steps towards water solutions our state desperately needs. The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider California water legislation on the House amendment to the Senate energy bill AND the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill. House passage on both will send these bills into a House and Senate conference — marking the first time this has happened. While the House has acted multiple times over the years, our Democratic Senate colleagues have neglected the urgency of this crisis. This week’s action will ensure they can no longer ignore sensible solutions.”

Congressmembers Garamendi and McNerney blast Republican Attack on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Republican majority will pass two bills this week containing language that would gut the Delta’s environmental protections

From Congressmember John Garamendi’s office:

garamendiToday, Congressmen John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney, who represent large portions of the Sacramento Delta, blasted attempts by San Joaquin Valley Republicans David Valadao, Devin Nunes and Kevin Mccarthy to hijack the Energy and Water Appropriations bill by inserting into it a separate bill, HR2898 (Valadao). This legislation would gut the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the biological opinions that protect the sensitive ecology of the Delta. If the appropriations bill were to become law, it would destroy the environmental protections of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and allow massive and extraordinarily destructive increases in exports from the Tracy pumps.

“This week, the Republican majority in Congress will pass two bills that gut the environmental protections for the Delta to take more water for private interests,” said Garamendi. “We will do everything we can to stop it, but make no mistake: the Republicans control the House of Representatives, and they will pass these bills and send them to the Senate. They will stop at nothing to gut the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the biological opinions that protect our precious Delta ecosystem.”

“I will do everything I can to work with the Senate to make sure these provisions never become law. These disastrous riders are not the solution to California’s drought. Instead, we need a solution that relies on the most accurate science while investing in the long-term infrastructure California needs to build a more resilient water future. Senator Feinstein and I have introduced legislation to do exactly that, and I look forward to defeating these bills and working with my colleagues on a much better path forward.”

Reps. Costa and Valadao Support Drainage Settlement to Protect Agricultural Land

From the Office of Congressmember Jim Costa:

US_Rep._Jim_Costa_(D-CA)Today, Reps. Jim Costa (CA-16) and David Valadao (CA-21) testified at the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans legislative hearing on H.R. 4366, the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution, introduced by Rep. Valadao and H.R. 5217, the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act, introduced by Rep. Costa.  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 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.

“California’s San Joaquin Valley is home to some of the most productive agricultural land in the world, and Congressman Valadao and I are proud to represent the farmers who produce the crops that feed our nation and world,” said Rep. Costa. “The San Luis Drainage Resolution Act helps ensure the land in the San Luis Unit and Westlands Water District of the Central Valley Project has the opportunity to continue their long-standing history of productivity, while eliminating the $3.8 billion dollar burden that U.S. tax payers are currently obligated to pay. These agreements, reached between the Obama Administration and the water districts within the San Luis Unit and Westlands Water District, need to be authorized by Congress in order to move forward. I urge my colleagues to support the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act because its passage would result in the resolution of all drainage obligations for the United States and would move the responsibilities of drainage obligations to local control, similar to other jurisdictions across the state.”

Congressman Valadao stated, “I cannot stress enough the importance of this legislation so that we may finally end this decades old dispute. By passing my legislation, H.R. 4366, the San Luis Drainage Resolution Act, we are able to protect the economic stability of the most productive agriculture region in the world by preserving agriculture production and as a result, safeguarding thousands of desperately needed jobs in the region.” He continued, “Additionally, passage of this legislation will shield American taxpayers from potentially billions of dollars in future drainage and litigation costs by relieving the United States of its multi-billion dollar statutory and court-ordered drainage obligation. This common-sense agreement will settle this long-standing dispute, proving beneficial for all those involved.

Video of Rep. Costa testifying before the subcommittee can be watched here.

Video of Rep. Valadao testifying before the subcommittee can be watched here.

Rep. Valadao’s bill, H.R. 4366, the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act would authorize the following provisions which are part of the settlement agreement:

  • 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.

In addition to the provisions listed above, Congressman Costa’s bill, H.R. 5217 would also authorize the following:

  • 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.

Congressmember Grace Napolitano protects public health, rejects GOP attack on the Clean Water Act

From the Office of Congressmember Grace Napolitano:

grace napolitanoToday, during a floor debate in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) spoke out against H.R. 897, a Republican bill under the guise of fighting the Zika Virus, which would exempt commercial pesticide application from regulation under the Clean Water Act. Napolitano voted against the bill, for the fourth time in three years, which ultimately passed by a vote of 258 to 156.

“I am very concerned about the effect of these pesticides on the health of our rivers, on our streams, and especially the drinking water supplies of all our citizens, including pregnant women,” Napolitano said in her opening statement. “This legislation does nothing to prevent the spread of Zika in the United States. Instead it makes it easier to contaminate our drinking water supplies with pesticides known or suspected to pose these health risks. I urge all of my colleagues to oppose this misguided, harmful bill.”

Last week, on May 17, the House considered H.R. 897 under suspension of the rules. By a vote of 262 to 159, the House failed to pass the bill under suspension, as passage requires a two-thirds majority. In bringing H.R. 897 up now and suddenly renaming it the “Zika Vector Control Act,” House Republicans are trying to mask gutting the Clean Water Act as having something to do with fighting Zika. Rather than a bill designed to address the Zika crisis, this bill is exactly the same bill – with the title “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act” – that House Republicans have been trying to enact since 2009.

“We cannot, and should not, eliminate the role of the Clean Water Act in the regulation of pesticides,” Napolitano added. “Over the past five years, this process has been reasonable and workable to pest operators and agricultural interests alike, and needs to be retained.”

Napolitano is the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. Her full opening statement can be viewed here.

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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.

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