Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross signed a Memorandum of Agreement last week that will ensure that the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West is implemented as quickly and smoothly as possible. To that end, the Memorandum of Agreement designated Mr. Paul Souza, Regional Director for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, as the Lead Official in charge of managing the Klamath Irrigation and Central Valley Projects’ compliance with Presidential Memorandum’s requirements.
“We look forward to collaborating with the Department of Commerce on reducing the regulatory burden on these critical infrastructure projects,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “This Memorandum moves us one step closer toward ensuring Western water infrastructure can meet the demands of water users today, and in the future.”
“Streamlining the regulatory process and removing unnecessary burdens on Western infrastructure projects will help ensure the reliable supply and delivery of water in the region,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “We look forward to working with the Department of the Interior to remove the red tape preventing the American West from improving the infrastructure it needs to thrive and grow.” Presidential Memorandum
For decades, uncoordinated regulatory actions diminished the ability of federal, state and local agencies to efficiently deliver water and power to the West in a cost-effective manner.
To remove these roadblocks, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum October 19th directing the Departments of the Interior and Commerce to do what it takes to ensure that western water users have what they need to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and provide water and power to millions of Americans.
Specifically, the Presidential Memorandum directed the Interior and Commerce Departments to take several actions, including:
- Expediting regulatory actions essential to the operation of water infrastructure while ensuring compliance with the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act;
- Improving the information and modeling capabilities related to water availability;
- Expanding use of water desalination and water recycling;
- Removing unnecessary burdens unique to the operation of the Columbia River Basin’s water infrastructure.
The Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce, designated Paul Souza, Regional Director for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, as Lead Official and single executive to supervise the implementation of the Presidential Memorandum as applied to the Klamath Irrigation and Central Valley Projects. In addition, he will be identifying regulations and procedures that potentially burden the projects and developing a proposed plan to suspend, revise or rescind any regulation or procedure that unduly burdens them.
The Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and United States Fish and Wildlife Service within the Interior Department, and the National Marine Fisheries Service within the Commerce Department, each serve a vital role in fulfilling the multiple statutory and trust objectives that apply to each Department’s Klamath Basin obligations and will be an integral part of each Department’s implementation of the Presidential Memorandum.
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