News Worth Noting, DC edition: Conference committee for energy bill with water provisions appointed; Feinstein calls for moratorium on taxing water conservation rebates; Huffman supports Water Resources Development Act; Napolitano praises Committee passage of water infrastructure bill

Speaker appoints Members to Represent Committee Jurisdiction in House-Senate Energy Conference

From the House Natural Resources Committee

house nat res commToday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) appointed Republican lawmakers to serve on a conference committee charged with producing final energy and natural resource legislation (H.R. 8 / S. 2012), including Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT), Vice-Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR).

H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, which included two bipartisan energy infrastructure bills from the Committee on Natural Resources, passed the House in December 2015. The Senate passed S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, in April 2016.

The House Amendment to S. 2012, which passed the House yesterday, includes H.R. 8 and numerous additional House-passed bills within the Committee’s jurisdiction. Click here to view a summary of most of the Committee’s provisions.

“We intend to advance a wide range of important energy and natural resource reforms through this conference process. I look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate to build agreement on final legislation,” Bishop stated.

“This conference is a tremendous opportunity to improve the stewardship of our land, our water, and our energy resources, helping to bring conservation into the 21st Century. I anticipate a productive conference with the U.S. Senate,” Lummis stated.

“I look forward to the challenge of ensuring access to critical resources and public lands, streamlining energy development, eliminating red tape facing our nation’s sportsmen and producing a bill that benefits Alaska and the American people,” Young stated.

“It’s an honor to be named as a conferee. I look forward to addressing policies which will provide some relief to our communities suffering from California’s man-made drought and utilizing our vast natural resources to advance America’s energy independence ,” Denham stated.

“I’m excited to work with senators and other House member to discuss the science and benefits of healthy forests, access to public lands, and improving our nation’s energy policy and infrastructure. This is a tremendous opportunity to advocate for the forests and landowners that make up so much of my district and this nation. I thank the Speaker for this opportunity.” Westerman stated.

Click here to view the full text of the House Amendment to S. 2012.

Senator Feinstein Calls for Moratorium on Taxing Water Conservation Rebates

From the office of Senator Feinstein:

Dianne_Feinstein,_official_Senate_photo_2Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), along with six Senate colleagues today wrote Treasure Secretary Jack Lew requesting a moratorium on taxing water conservation and storm water management rebates for 2015 and 2016 in order to provide relief to residents participating in water-saving measures, especially those in states affected by drought conditions.

The senators wrote: “Many residents have done their part to contribute to community water conservation by participating in local water utility programs that provide rebates for water conservation efforts. Participants in these programs now find their rebates subject to federal income tax, despite the fact that comparable rebates for energy conservation are tax exempt.

“We are concerned that this treatment of water conservation and stormwater management rebates undermines water conservation efforts and may exacerbate water shortages. At a time when the nation’s water resources face significant threats from drought, water supply variability, and extreme weather events, the federal government should do all it can to encourage residents to conserve water and to reduce the impact of runoff on water quality.”

Click here to read the full letter.

Congressmember Jared Huffman Supports Water Resources Development Act, Applauds Fisheries, Estuaries, and Dredging Improvements

From the office of Congressmember Jared Huffman

Jared_Huffman,_Official_portrait,_113th_CongressThe House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 that includes key California and environmental priorities authored by Congressman Huffman (D-San Rafael). The bill will next head to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

The bipartisan WRDA 2016 legislation, which authorizes Army Corps of Engineers activities across the country, contains several provisions either authored or co-authored by Huffman that will modernize drought response, restore wetland restoration funding, and improve fish hatchery management. The underlying bill will also increase funding for navigation and dredging activity, a key priority for North Coast ports.

Congressman Huffman’s amendment to use existing fish hatchery capacity to restore threatened fish populations, such as the North Coast’s endangered salmon runs, was adopted without opposition during today’s committee meeting. Fish hatcheries operated by the Army Corps of Engineers often have surplus capacity and could do more to restock depleted fish populations, but under current law the agency lacks the authority to collaborate with non-federal entities on these hatchery projects. The amendment clarifies that existing Army Corps fish hatcheries could work with local and regional partners to restore native fish.

“In coastal communities such as mine, local water agencies are interested in seeing more robust native fish populations,” said Rep. Huffman. “My amendment will simply allow the Army Corps of Engineers to do more to support native fisheries in Sonoma and across the country, while ensuring that the additional costs will be borne by the partnering entities and agencies.”

Congressman Huffman also worked to include numerous other provisions in the final bill including:

  • Estuary Restoration– the committee-passed bill included legislative language from Rep. Huffman’s bipartisan estuary restoration bill with Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), HR 4607, which will eliminate bureaucratic impediments to funding environmentally important estuary habitat restoration projects. The changes Huffman has proposed, and which were included in the underlying WRDA bill, will improve clean water sources, support coastal economies – including fishing and shellfish industry jobs – and provide recreational opportunities for millions of Americans. The proposal is supported by Ducks Unlimited and Restore America’s Estuaries.
  • Environmental Infrastructure– the bill also includes portions of H.R. 2689, another bipartisan bill that Rep. Huffman introduced with Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA). The changes would clarify the ability of the Army Corps of Engineers to work on environmental infrastructure projects such as water recycling, desalination, and storm water collection.
  • Funding for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund– the bill ensures that vital funds will be used for harbor maintenance and dredging in ports and harbors.

The bipartisan WRDA bill also includes a provision modeled on Huffman’s FORECAST Act, HR 813, to modernize reservoir operations and improve water storage opportunities. During committee consideration of a Huffman amendment to expand on that provision, Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and the Ranking Member Peter Defazio (D-OR) promised that they would continue to work with Huffman to finalize the amendment before the legislation is considered on the House floor. Click HERE for more on the FORECAST Act and reservoir operation modernization.

With modern weather science, including satellites, the Army Corps should be able to do a much better job in determining when to release water so that they don’t drain reservoirs unnecessarily. This is a desperately needed measure for anyone who depends on Army Corps reservoirs for their water supply.

Congressmember Grace Napolitano praises Committee passage of water infrastructure bill

From the office of Congressmember Grace Napolitano:

grace napolitanoToday, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) praised the passage of H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, by the full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, releasing the following statement:

“I am proud of the work we have done with San Gabriel Valley and state water agencies to include provisions in this bill that improve drought resilience, address regional storm water challenges, and create environmental and recreational opportunities for our constituents,” Napolitano said. “I commend Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, and Chairman Gibbs for working in a bipartisan fashion, and I look forward to our continued efforts as we move this bill forward.”

Napolitano, the most senior California member of the Committee, successfully included her Donor and Energy Transfer Ports Amendment in the Manger’s Amendment to the bill. This would extend the current authorization of $50 million per year for donor and energy transfer harbors for expanded uses of berth dredging, environmental remediation dredging, and rebates to shippers. Donor harbors are harmed because their shippers are taxed much more than they receive back in harbor maintenance funding. This excessive tax diverts cargo away from donor harbors which leads to business and job losses in regions, such as Southern California, that are paying the most in taxes.

The full text of the Water Resources Development Act can be viewed here.

A full summary of H.R. 5303 can be viewed here.

Napolitano is the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, which oversees EPA’s Clean Water Act and US Army Corps of Engineers water programs.

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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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