Newhouse Statement on Water Resources Legislation and Yakima Basin Project

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021) by a voice-vote yesterday. The conference legislation is the product of negotiations between House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over various water resources and energy infrastructure issues. S. 3021 includes a provision from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to promote early action, infrastructure, and improvements at non-federal dams, including necessary additions to dams such as fish-friendly turbines and critical maintenance.

“This legislation invests in the nation’s water resources infrastructure and encourages the use of clean, renewable hydropower by streamlining the regulatory permitting process,” said Rep. Newhouse. “While this bill makes positive changes and provides for maintenance and expedited licensing, it represents a lost opportunity for Central Washington. I am grateful that House negotiators worked during negotiations to try to include my language authorizing the next phase of the Yakima Basin Project, and I am disappointed that Senate Democrats chose to decline this opportunity to include that language in the conference agreement. I am hopeful that before the end of the 115th Congress, there will be another legislative vehicle in which to include this legislation to provide water resources that are vital for Central Washington’s future. I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fulfill the federal government’s role in authorizing the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.”

In May, the House Natural Resources Committee reported Rep. Newhouse’s legislation, H.R. 4419, the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs Water Project Streamlining Act out of committee with bipartisan support.

Background on America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018:

IMPROVES AMERICA’S WATER RESOURCES INFRASTRUCTURE:

  • Provides for needed investment in our ports, channels, locks, dams, and other infrastructure that supports the maritime and waterways transportation system and provides flood protection for homes and businesses.
  • Authorizes Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Reports received since the last WRDA law of 2016.
    • Chief’s Reports are the final recommendations to Congress by the Corps’ Chief of Engineers for thoroughly studied water resources infrastructure priorities.
    • These infrastructure improvements have been proposed at the local level, in cooperation and consultation with the Corps, and provide national economic and environmental benefits.
    • All Chief’s Reports have been fully vetted by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at hearings this Congress.
    • Authorizes studies for future water resources improvements included in the Corps’ 2017 and 2018 annual reports to Congress.
  • Reauthorizes the Levee Safety Initiative, and the National Dam Safety Program through 2023 to help protect American communities from flooding.
  • Keeps American jobs in America by strengthening our competitiveness and ensuring that our transportation system remains attractive to private sector job creators.

PROMOTES HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT AND INCREASES FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION TRANSPARENCY:

  • Encourages the use of clean, baseload hydropower by streamlining the regulatory permitting process.
  • Gets new hydropower projects to market faster, saving time and money.
  • Removes barriers to investments in hydropower, which creates jobs and provides low-cost, emissions free electricity to consumers.
  • Strengthens consumers’ participation in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rate process by increasing transparency.

Click here for more information about the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

NOTE: This bill includes a provision from H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017, which passed the House with bipartisan support in November 2017. The provision promotes early action, infrastructure, and improvements at non-federal dams. This promotes necessary additions to dams like fish friendly turbines and critical maintenance. Right now, these improvements must be made within a small window of time to count towards a dams’ new license. With this language included, these improvements can be made outside of that window and count towards the next license. H.R. 2872, the Promoting Hydropower Development at Existing Nonpowered Dams Act, which promotes hydropower development at existing nonpowered dams by establishing an expedited licensing process that will result in a final decision on an application in two years or less, and H.R. 2880, the Promoting Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Act, to promote closed-loop pumped storage for hydropower development by establishing an expedited licensing process that will result in a final decision on an application in two years or less.