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Committee Passes Legislation to Alleviate Drought Impacts in California and the West

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2015 - Today, the Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015 with a bipartisan vote of 23-12. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) commented upon the Committee vote: 

“Californians and Westerners are victims of baneful man-made environmental laws which are intensifying their suffering from the drought. They need our help. H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act, comes to their aid by fixing the broken regulatory system and bringing water infrastructure into the 21st century. H.R. 2898 rightfully puts people and their livelihoods above extremist ideology and outdated, cumbersome water regulations and laws. I applaud Rep. Valadao (R-CA) for his leadership on H.R. 2898 and eagerly anticipate the U.S. House of Representatives passing the legislation as soon as possible,” Chairman Bishop said. 

“Droughts are nature’s fault; water shortages are our fault,” said Rep. McClintock (R-CA). “For a generation, we have failed to build the facilities needed to store water from wet years to have it in dry ones and radical environmental laws have squandered the water we did store. Our water shortage is caused by a shortage of sensible water policy. This bill begins fixing that.”

“I thank Chairman Bishop and my colleague, Rep. Valadao, for their work on this critical drought and water supply legislation. Water is the lifeblood of the West’s economy and of vital importance to agriculture. Forward-thinking improvements are needed to improve water storage infrastructure and drought response. I am pleased that the Committee has approved this bill and included my legislation, the Bureau of Reclamation Surface Water Storage Streamlining Act, which would make important improvements to accelerate the Bureau of Reclamation’s permitting process for surface water projects. I look forward to this legislation passing the House to address the nation’s grave water needs,” Rep. Newhouse (R-WA) commented.

“California’s drought continues to hurt our families, farms and economy. This bill is a compromise from four years of discussions and provides the short- and long-term solutions that our western states desperately need, including increased storage and legislation I’ve introduced to study and eliminate the threat of predator fish. It’s time for the Senate to come to the table,” said Rep. Denham (R-CA).

“Today’s passage of the California water bill brings us one step closer to providing long overdue relief to drought-stricken families and communities in California,” Vice Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) commented. “In addition to addressing the crisis in California, this legislation creates new tools to secure a drought-resistant water supply infrastructure throughout the West. Chairman Bishop should be commended for his swift action on this bipartisan legislation and I hope the full House of Representatives quickly follows suit.” 

“While much of California’s water supply crisis has been caused by the drought, misguided and outdated regulatory restriction have exacerbated the situation. This balanced proposal includes policy reforms to give immediate relief to the millions of Californians facing mandatory water rationing and invests in new water storage facilities to prepare for future droughts. As the product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, this legislation protects Northern Californian water rights, adds operational flexibility to the Central Valley Project, and advances surface water storage projects, including Sites Reservoir in Northern California. The depth of the crisis has only grown over recent months, and I’m pleased at the speed with which the committee addressed this vital legislation,” said Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA).

Information on the markup and legislation is available here and here.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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