May 17, 2016

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Western Drought Legislation

Today the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on a package of Western water bills, demonstrating that Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski [R-AK] is still dedicated to identifying potential solutions to the ongoing drought crisis.

The group of bills heard by the Water and Power Subcommittee includes the revised California water legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] in February, as well as bills introduced by Senators Cory Gardner [R-CO], Harry Reid [D-NV] and Jeff Flake [R-AZ].

Together, the bills represent a bipartisan, region-wide effort that addresses the needs of diverse stakeholders throughout the West. Included in the legislative package are components critical to helping the western states become more resilient in the face the current and future droughts, such as:

  • Revising the flawed policies restricting water capture and storage in California
  • Streamlining new surface water storage facilities
  • More creative financing for water infrastructure projects
  • Greater flexibility for states and water agencies to manage their water supplies

Western Growers issued a press statement praising the Committee for staying engaged on the issue and encouraging Members to quickly move these bills to mark up and, ultimately, to the floor for a vote by the full Senate.

The House of Representatives passed their version of drought relief legislation, authored by David Valadao [CA-21], in July of last year. If the Senate passes its own bill, negotiators from both chambers will be required to meet in conference to resolve the disagreements between the two work products.

To avoid the distractions of the upcoming presidential elections, Western Growers pushed for immediate Senate action, noting that failure to move on a bill would condemn the West to another year of increasing water uncertainty with potentially irreparable environmental and human harm.

For more information, contact Dennis Nuxoll at (202) 296-0191.