Legislative: Hearing on H.R. 4419
LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON:
- H.R. 4419 (Rep. Dan Newhouse), To facilitate and streamline the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs processes for creating or expanding certain water projects and for other purposes. “Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs Water Project Streamlining Act”
DEMOCRATIC TOPLINE MESSAGES:
- Environmental reviews have not blocked a single Reclamation dam from being constructed. Reclamation has cited the high expense of surface storage and a lack of costshare partners as the primary reason storage projects have been authorized and not constructed—not bedrock environmental laws like NEPA or ESA.
- States like California have added nearly six million acre-feet of new surface and groundwater storage in recent years, all while bedrock environmental protections like ESA and NEPA were in place. Some examples include Diamond Valley Reservoir and the Kern and Semitropic Groundwater Banks.
- According to the Congressional Research Service, the most likely causes of delay for major
infrastructure projects are lack of funding and local and state permitting issues, not NEPA.
- According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 95 percent of public infrastructure projects are excluded from environmental reviews under current law. Less than 1% of projects require a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Those projects that do require an EIS tend to be the largest and most complex, and delays that do occur are more likely the result of local opposition, a lack of funding or no local cost-share sponsor, or changes in the project scope.
- California alone already has 1,400 dams with the capacity to hold over 41 million acre-feet of water, and virtually every major river in states like California are already dammed. Independent experts point out that most of the best dam projects across the west were
already built during the 20th Century dam building spree. New proposed dams often won’t
yield enough water to justify their multibillion-dollar construction budgets.
- New surface storage is one of the most expensive and environmentally destructive methods to increase water supply. We must pursue 21st Century water infrastructure projects like reuse and recycling, groundwater storage, and water-use efficiency projects.