In Sign of a Growing Trend, Republicans Again Using Infrastructure as Cover for Standard Deregulation Agenda at Today’s Markup

Washington, D.C. – Today’s Natural Resources Committee markup features multiple environmental deregulation bills disguised as infrastructure planning – a continuation of a trend that became clear earlier this month. Committee Republicans spent the month of March holding ostensibly “infrastructure-related” hearings that consistently repeated decades-old talking points about laws they have sought to weaken, including the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and others.

Among the problematic bills:

-          Rep. Tom McClintock’s (R-Calif.) H.R. 1654 would turn the Bureau of Reclamation into the federal permitting authority for new surface water storage projects, including dams, and waive all existing NEPA requirements for such projects, which would severely limit public input.

-          Rep. David Valadao’s (R-Calif.) H.R. 1769 is a tremendous transfer of public resources to Westlands Water District, which the Los Angeles Times identified as “cooking its books” in March 2016.

-          Rep. Louie Gohmert’s H.R. 1807 waives the Lacey Act – which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold – for some water transfers between Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

-          Rep. Doug LaMalfa’s (R-Calif.) H.R. 1873 allows public harvesting of trees and other plants near electric transmission lines through an ill-defined process that lacks public transparency.

Today’s markup follows a pattern of using “infrastructure” as cover for pre-existing deregulatory schemes that Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) identified in an April 7 statement. “So far Republicans haven’t offered any infrastructure ideas – they’ve offered the same old environment-bashing and snake oil sales pitch we’ve seen for decades,” Grijalva said then.

“Republicans can’t seem to admit that wiping away our environmental laws is bad for the economy,” Grijalva said today. “This isn’t about infrastructure. If it was, we’d see funding for genuinely constructive projects. This is using a national need to pass special interest bills. It’s going to continue, and no one should be fooled by it.”

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