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house Bill H.R. 1654

Should the Bureau of Reclamation be the Lead Agency for Reviewing Permits for New Reservoirs?

Argument in favor

The existing process for granting permits to build reservoirs and other water storage projects leaves applicants dealing with numerous agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. This bill would designate one lead agency that coordinates with other relevant parties, greatly simplifying the process for applicants.

Ndue's Opinion
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06/23/2017
Regulations need to go. Takes too much time to enact what should be a much faster process. For those of you saying no because the person proposing this bill loss Republican, you are too ignorant to even realize. Do not deny a bill simply because of the party of the person proposing it. A lot of Democrats seem to be missing the point of democracy when it comes to everybody getting a say...
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06/22/2017
This bill appears to place BoR in the position of a central point of contact and administration while preserving the existing multiple-agency (federal, state, and tribal) framework necessary to coordinate and realize any water storage project. EIS isn't going away, and it doesn't appear to strip away the power of any other agency in performing its statutory mandate. These projects are already beset by other complications, so it would be nice to remove just a tad of the preliminary squabbling out of who gets to run point on a process that, by design, does not lend itself to rubberstamping. It'll be SNAFU either way, so why not make the SNAFU BoR's problem as a rule? In the spirit of cynical optimism, I'll say that I'm an unenthusiastic yes.
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06/19/2017
This helps keep everyone on the same page and reduces man hours and damage to natural resources.
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Argument opposed

This bill would impose an ill-conceived review process that’s at odds with existing federal law and could unnecessarily speed up critical environmental reviews. Besides, the bigger obstacle facing water storage projects are related to cost, pricing, and repayment challenges rather than bureaucratic inefficiency.

Ticktock's Opinion
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06/19/2017
Maybe I'm dense but I could make no sense of the purpose of this Bill. It refers to Environmental Impact of any impact of any project under consideration. Are we talking about something like the Dakota Pipeline which was rammed through by this Administration to satisfy corporate supporters which ultimately polluted the drinking water for the Native Americans in the area. This appears to me to be a smoke screen. This Administration and Republican Congress are going to do damn well as they please even if it's in the dark, out of sight and behind closed doors away from public view. Just like the way they are working healthcare. We'll get only what they want to dole out.
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Erin's Opinion
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06/22/2017
This bill is sponsored by a republican. Therefore, in my opinion it is not good for the American people, nor for any common, non-wealthy citizen.
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Jessica's Opinion
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06/22/2017
We already have a system in place for the construction of new water reservoirs in the United States. The system works and the any new environmental review is code for eroding the current system of environmental review through the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA establishes the bare minimum to look at the impact of massive infrastructure projects like reservoirs. We need to strengthen legislation like NEPA, not erode it. Again, we should ask who are the beneficiaries of changing or abolishing review law, is it the local or regional populace in the vicinity of the federally funded project or is it special interests, the construction companies and energy companies that will benefit from less oversight of construction and environmental impacts. Less oversight will hurt the country and the American public.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed June 22nd, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 233 Yea / 180 Nay
      house Committees
      Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedMarch 21st, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 1654?

This bill would make the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to act as the lead federal agency for coordinating with 17 western states for issuing permits to construct new water storage projects on land managed by the Depts. of the Interior or Agriculture. When the BOR receives an application for such a project, it’d notify other federal agencies and receive from them a timeline for completing that agency’s responsibilities, environmental review materials, and all relevant project data.

A state in which a qualifying project is being considered would have the option of being a cooperating agency and require state agencies with relevant oversight powers to fulfill the same requirements as federal agencies.

The BOR’s primary responsibilities would be to:

  • Serve as the point of contact for applicants, state agencies, Indian tribes, and others regarding qualifying projects;

  • Coordinate preparation of unified environmental documentation that will serve as the basis for all federal decisions necessary to authorize the use of federal funds for qualifying projects;

  • Coordinate all federal agency reviews necessary for the development and construction of qualifying projects.

The Dept. of the Interior would be authorized to accept and expend funds contributed by a non-federal public entity to expedite the evaluation of a permit after issuing a public notice. Interior must ensure that all final permit decisions are made available to the public, including on the Internet.

Impact

Applicants looking to build water storage projects; relevant agencies at the local, state, and federal level especially the Bureau of Reclamation.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1654

$1.00 Million
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost about $1 million per year.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) introduced this bill to revise a burdensome permitting process involving numerous agencies at all levels of government that has caused extreme delays in the construction of new water projects:

“[This bill] establishes a framework in which federal agencies with permitting responsibilities for the construction of new surface water storage projects must work together, coordinate their schedules, share data and technical materials, and make their findings publicly available. The end result would be fewer delays, more efficient use of taxpayer dollars, and ultimately, more abundant water supplies.”

House Democrats have expressed their opposition to this bill on the grounds that it creates a lack of clarity surrounding existing environmental protections and that its accelerated timelines could reduce, rather than increase, the number of water storage projects built:

“The confusion this bill would cause, coupled with the compressed timeframe it mandates to established the merits of projects, will likely make favorable recommendations for construction projects less probable.”

This legislation passed the House Natural Resources Committee on a 24-16 vote, and has the support of eight Republican cosponsors in the House.

 

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain)

AKA

Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act

Official Title

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to coordinate Federal and State permitting processes related to the construction of new surface water storage projects on lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture and to designate the Bureau of Reclamation as the lead agency for permit processing, and for other purposes.

    Simplify the process!
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    Maybe I'm dense but I could make no sense of the purpose of this Bill. It refers to Environmental Impact of any impact of any project under consideration. Are we talking about something like the Dakota Pipeline which was rammed through by this Administration to satisfy corporate supporters which ultimately polluted the drinking water for the Native Americans in the area. This appears to me to be a smoke screen. This Administration and Republican Congress are going to do damn well as they please even if it's in the dark, out of sight and behind closed doors away from public view. Just like the way they are working healthcare. We'll get only what they want to dole out.
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill is sponsored by a republican. Therefore, in my opinion it is not good for the American people, nor for any common, non-wealthy citizen.
    Like (52)
    Follow
    Share
    We already have a system in place for the construction of new water reservoirs in the United States. The system works and the any new environmental review is code for eroding the current system of environmental review through the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA establishes the bare minimum to look at the impact of massive infrastructure projects like reservoirs. We need to strengthen legislation like NEPA, not erode it. Again, we should ask who are the beneficiaries of changing or abolishing review law, is it the local or regional populace in the vicinity of the federally funded project or is it special interests, the construction companies and energy companies that will benefit from less oversight of construction and environmental impacts. Less oversight will hurt the country and the American public.
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    The reason to have numerous agencies approving reservoirs is to provide checks and counterchecks against actions harming the environment among other things. "House Democrats have expressed their opposition to this bill on the grounds that it creates a lack of clarity surrounding existing environmental protections".
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    Short-cutting important environmental review is not an option. Please oppose senators!
    Like (10)
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    As someone stated, this is the most discombobulated jumble of words ever. Is this how congress thinks it can fool the citizens?
    Like (7)
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    We need extensive review on federal law and when it comes to the environment, reviews need extensive research by multiple agencies and transparency for the sake of conscientious decisions for the future!
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    I feel that the process deals with several agencies for a reason. Local and state departments may have contrasting views with the feds as well. It is best to let government move steadily and slowly than to be rapid and rash.
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    No absolutely not but hell you're going to do just the opposite of what your constituents want anyway so I might as well talk to myself while you fill your pockets.
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    Ridiculous. This helps the world water supply how? Lining the pockets of the rich, making our water resources more expensive. Typical of this inhumane administration.
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    Environmental reviews do not need to be expedited - they need to be respected.
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    This is yet another bill sponsored by Republicans to remove "these burdensome regulations" that stand between thier buddies and more money. This does not take environmental impact into account, AND it cost us $1mil per year. Aren't Republicans supposed to be reducing spending?
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    I find it so frustrating that our government has no regard for environmental impacts. Why do we need to rush projects? This is how the Flint water crisis occurs again...
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    Regulations need to go. Takes too much time to enact what should be a much faster process. For those of you saying no because the person proposing this bill loss Republican, you are too ignorant to even realize. Do not deny a bill simply because of the party of the person proposing it. A lot of Democrats seem to be missing the point of democracy when it comes to everybody getting a say...
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    This looks like another way to destroy or weaken environmental and probably tribal protection. I always wonder whose ox is to be gored by a new law or regulation and, in this case likely everyone's except some downstream thirsty corporation.
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    More chicanery from the Republicans.
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    The agenda is not at all subtle; the DOI is attempting to skirt States Rights on the subject and avert environmental review. You can't have it both ways; no, hell no!
    Like (3)
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    This bill appears to place BoR in the position of a central point of contact and administration while preserving the existing multiple-agency (federal, state, and tribal) framework necessary to coordinate and realize any water storage project. EIS isn't going away, and it doesn't appear to strip away the power of any other agency in performing its statutory mandate. These projects are already beset by other complications, so it would be nice to remove just a tad of the preliminary squabbling out of who gets to run point on a process that, by design, does not lend itself to rubberstamping. It'll be SNAFU either way, so why not make the SNAFU BoR's problem as a rule? In the spirit of cynical optimism, I'll say that I'm an unenthusiastic yes.
    Like (2)
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    Any time you have something that shortens environmental review, it puts a potential hazard in place. This bill does that. If you want to fast track something,do it right!
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