Congressman Doc Hastings

Serving Central Washington

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Hastings and Yakima Resident Raise Concerns at Committee Hearing Over the Negative Impacts of Federal Water Grab

New federal water directives threatens jobs, farmers, and local economies

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Washington, D.C., Jun 24 | Neal Kirby (202-225-5816) | comments

Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee Water and Power held an oversight hearing on “New Federal Schemes to Soak Up Water Authority: Impacts on States, Water Users, Recreation, and Jobs.” The hearing examined recent actions by the Obama Administration to turn over longstanding water rights and eliminate multiple land and water uses on and off federal lands.

The proposed “Waters of the U.S.” regulation and the U.S. Forest Service’s Groundwater Directive are measures proposed by the Obama Administration that many believe are land and water grabs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service) and Bureau of Reclamation refused the Committee’s invitation to send witnesses to testify and answer questions regarding the proposed regulations. However, witnesses representing small businesses from across the nation testified on the impacts of the proposed Obama Administration regulations, including higher food, water, and electricity costs, the undermining of states’ rights, and current and future water supply infrastructure.

“We can foster water development for people and species if the federal government chooses not to erect hurdles to new projects,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. “Yet, the two proposals in front of us – the EPA’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ and the Forest Service’s new ‘Groundwater Directive’ do nothing more than make it more difficult to rehabilitate or build new projects that benefit agriculture, municipalities, species and habitat.”

During the hearing, both Hastings and Yakima resident Larry Martin raised specific concerns about the impact that the Forest Service’s Directive could have on the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan.

“In the Yakima Basin, after decades of fighting resulting in inaction, water users representing agriculture, municipal, tribal and environmental interests throughout the region put aside their differences to craft a water plan that meets everyone’s needs,” said Larry Martin, who testified at the hearing on behalf of the National Water Resources Association. “Essential elements of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan are improvements to reservoirs located on Forest Service lands…the Forest Service Directive could delay or derail the implementation of this vital, innovative, and broadly supported plan, including already approved projects that will provide water for fish and habitat.”

At the beginning of today’s hearing, the House Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock released a letter from Hastings and over 40 Members of Congress, representing Americans from across the country, urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to withdraw this Groundwater Directive.

In addition, Hastings has previously raised concerns about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers’ federal water grab, which could place nearly every body of water ranging from irrigation canals to small ponds and seasonal ditches under the unlimited authority of the federal government. In May, Hastings joined more than 200 Members of Congress on a bipartisan letter calling on the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their plan to expand federal control under the Clean Water Act. Click here to read a recent weekly column that Hastings wrote on the job-killing proposal.

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