Week of 04.15.2018

Farm Bill Released - Caucus Members Weigh In  
On Thursday, the House Committee on Agriculture released the draft text of its 2018 Farm Bill, which will be considered by the Committee shortly. Several Western Caucus members issued statements following the announcement:

House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (TX-11) stated, “The Farm Bill keeps faith with our nation’s farmers and ranchers through the current agriculture recession by providing certainty and helping producers manage the enormous risks that are inherent in agriculture. The farm bill also remains faithful to the American taxpayer and consumer. Under the farm bill, consumers will continue to enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world, and taxpayers will reap the more than $112 billion in budget savings projected under the current law.”

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar
(AZ-04) stated, “However you've thought about the Farm Bill in the past, at first glance this text appears to include several seriously beneficial changes. In particular, conservative Members of Congress can be relieved that the Committee stuck with its commitment to ensuring that the nutrition program includes more than 35 improvements, including by instituting meaningful work requirements so that heads of households have real incentives to remain productive members of society. But I'm most impressed with the inroads the Committee makes tackling enduring problems related to Endangered Species Act consultation, which routinely requires farmers and foresters to comply with a generous helping of senseless bureaucratic steps that provide no benefit to listed species. From the regulatory standpoint, farmers and forestry win in this package, which means rural America wins as well. Congressman Conaway should be commended for the very tough task of introducing a smarter Farm Bill, and I look forward to reviewing the details with my constituents.”

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) said, “It’s great to see that folks realize the job isn’t done on forest management reform. Millions of acres have been needlessly lost each year because Congress wouldn’t get serious about preventing catastrophic wildfires. With this farm bill, we have an opportunity to take meaningful steps forward in addressing the problems behind severe, uncontrollable wildfires. We look forward to working with the House Agriculture Committee and other Members to ensure that we will not end up having the Schumer fires of 2018 on our hands.”

See the full Western Caucus press release with all 13 Member statements HERE.

Click HERE to read the full legislative text of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.

Click HERE to read the section-by-section summary of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.

Click HERE to read policy highlights in the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.

Click HERE for audio of Chairman Conaway's remarks from this week's press conference.

See the Committee on Agriculture's 2018 Farm Bill information page HERE.

 Andrew Wheeler Confirmed for EPA 2nd-In-Command Post

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as the Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Andrew will serve as Administrator Pruitt's #2 within the agency, a post which has been unfilled since Pruitt took the helm of the Agency on account of unprecedented Senate Democrat obstruction and delay.

Prior to confirmation, Andrew was the principal and the head of the energy & environment team at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting. He served for 14 years on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and previously worked at the Environmental Protection Agency as a special assistant in the toxics office.

 Bipartisan H.R. 3144, Balancing Dam Security with Fish Recovery, Passes Through Committee

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3144. This important legislation protects critical dams that provide reliable and affordable water and power, prevents power costs from being increased by hundreds of millions of dollars, and rejects extremist efforts that threaten the energy security of the entire country.

“Hydropower helped build the Northwest, and still today it offers us clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable energy to help power our homes, businesses, and communities,” said House GOP Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-04). “I’m proud to see this bipartisan legislation pass the House Natural Resources Committee today and look forward to it coming before the full House in the coming weeks. My goal is to ensure that dams and fish can co-exist, and this Biological Opinion provides a collaborative approach so we can continue to improve technology and fish recovery efforts, while supporting the clean energy produced on our dams. I’m proud to lead this effort along with the support of organizations and people all across Eastern Washington.”

“Without Snake and Columbia river dams and the many benefits they provide, life in Central Washington as we know it would be unrecognizable,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-05). “I represent communities that actually live with the consequences of forced increased spill or potentially breaching dams, whether through higher electricity rates, higher transportation costs, reduced access to irrigation water, reduced flood control, and more. I appreciate the support from colleagues on both sides of the aisle for this bipartisan legislation to preserve the benefits of dams that communities in Central Washington depend on. We need to safeguard our dams while continuing to invest in fish recovery efforts because the cost of the alternative is too high for rural communities. I am grateful to Chairman Bishop for his support in committee as this legislation moves forward.”

For more information click HERE.

 Trump Administration Moves to Streamline Lethargic Federal Permitting Process

On Monday, a dozen different agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to streamline the permitting process for major infrastructure projects.

The MOU tasks the main federal agency of expertise with leading the permitting review process, setting timelines for the other agencies to complete review and producing a single environmental impact statement for projects.

“Inefficient environmental review processes have led to unnecessary delays, depriving our communities of needed infrastructure projects,” the White House said Monday in promoting the change.

For more information click HERE.

 Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Navajo Generating Station

Thursday, Chairman Gosar and the House Committee on Natural Resources Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee held an oversight hearing entitled "The Benefits of the Navajo Generating Station to Local Economies."

The hearing examined the future of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) and its importance to tribal nations, local communities and the West. According to current ownership, NGS is now in danger of closing prematurely at the end of 2019 despite an original plan to run until 2044. NGS’s primary role is to provide the vast majority of power for the Central Arizona Project water distribution system, ensuring that 80% of Arizona’s population – including residents of Phoenix and Tucson, amongst other localities –  have access to a reliable and affordable water supply. Should NGS close, the future power source for the Central Arizona Project is uncertain.

NGS and the Kayenta Mine support 3,000 jobs and generate billions of dollars for Arizona’s economy. NGS and the Mine provide 85% of the Hopi and 22% of the Navajo budgets. The total cost to build the Central Arizona Project and the Navajo Generating Station was more than $4 billion. Approximately $1.1 billion is still owed to taxpayers and this debt is not expected to be paid off for another 28 years. When NGS was designed, it was roundly considered the environmentally friendly trade-off at the time, as the alternative was the construction of two new dams strongly opposed by the Sierra Club and the environmentalist community. It would be a devastating blow to the Native American tribes in question, to surrounding communities and to the state of Arizona to lose the Navajo Generating Station.

Majority witnesses at the hearing included:

  • Chairman Tim Nuvangyaoma, Hopi Tribe, Office of the Chairman
  • Speaker Lorenzo Bates, Navajo Nation Council, Office of the Speaker
  • Seth Schwartz, President of Energy Ventures Analysis
  • Representative Mark Finchem, Arizona Legislature, District 11, Arizona State Capitol Complex
  • George Bilicic, Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Global Head of Power, Energy, and Infrastructure
  • Marie Justice, President, United Mine Workers
For more information and to watch the full hearing click HERE.

Notes From the Monthly Bicameral Staff Policy Breakfast
On Friday, we held our monthly bicameral staff policy meeting hosted by the Western Caucus Foundation. More than 100 House and Senate staffers, staff from several federal agencies, leadership and committee staff as well as speakers from industry attended this important meeting.

This month we heard from Pebble Project CEO Tom Collier, Vincent Erfe and Brett Barrus with the American Petroleum Institute, Andrea Travnicek (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science with U.S. Department of the Interior), Staff Director of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Mike Andrews, and staff representing House & Senate leadership.

In this week's Western Caucus Address, Congressman Tom McClintock (CA-04) discusses our nation's now-embattled tradition of multiple-use public land access, as well as crucial legislation to improve forest health. Click this link or on the graphic above to watch the full address.

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