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house Bill H.R. 3281

Should it be Easier to Transfer Certain Federally-Operated Water Projects to Local Control?

Argument in favor

Transferring dams and reservoirs to local operators — be they states, tribes, or local water boards — is a win-win: it promotes non-federal investment in water infrastructure and more efficient management of water resources, while also reducing federal liabilities.

Adam's Opinion
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07/12/2018
This seems like a simple call. Transfer of power away from the federal government to municipalities is a great way to decentralize power and reduce the overhead of federal programs. Giving local control to local agencies that are more in touch with the needs of the people they govern is the right move.
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Santiago's Opinion
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07/12/2018
Transferring dams and reservoirs to local operators — be they states, tribes, or local water boards — is a win-win: it promotes non-federal investment in water infrastructure and more efficient management of water resources, while also reducing federal liabilities. Get the federal government out of state and local affairs.
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Karan's Opinion
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07/12/2018
You guys are so misinformed. Transferring from Federal to Local is NOT privatization. It’s allowing the officials of a Local area who know their area to manage the project. If there is a water shortage in LA and they want to repurpose water from a reservoir to storage, should Washington DC manage that or the LA Water Commission? Which makes sense?
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Argument opposed

This bill encourages the irresponsible privatization of valuable federal assets, such as dams and reservoirs, while weakening congressional oversight and limiting public input in the decision-making process. Existing transfer procedures should remain in effect.

Kodiwodi's Opinion
···
07/12/2018
I’m sick to death of the privatization of natural resources. It hasn’t worked out well so far. There’s little oversight, no accountability and absolutely no transparency. Someone from the swamp is always getting paid off and damage is always done. By the time this is found out the lawmakers are now lobbyists and there is no one responsible for the disaster. No. Absolutely not. It should not be easier. It should be much much harder.
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Laura's Opinion
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07/12/2018
No, we do not want another Flint incident occurring.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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07/12/2018
Privatization of water infrastructure is what has led to the irresponsible over use by and groundwater mining that endangers the sustainability of our aquifers and watersheds. The for-profit motive of the private sector should not be involved with utilities that are critical to sustain life.
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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 July 12th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 233 Yea / 184 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedJuly 18th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 3281?

This bill would streamline the Dept. of the Interior’s (DOI) process for transferring the ownership of certain eligible reclamation projects (like dams, reservoirs, or canals) to states, a joint action or powers agency, a water users association, or an Indian tribe or tribal utility authority which have the capacity to continue managing the property. The DOI would have to notify Congress of proposed conveyances at least 90 days in advance and could execute the transfer if Congress doesn’t pass a joint resolution of disapproval. Facilities generating hydropower marketed by a power marketing administration wouldn’t be eligible for conveyance, and no conveyance could adversely impact power rates or repayment obligations.

The following criteria would be used to determine whether facilities are eligible for title transfer:

  • The transfer will not have an unmitigated significant effect on the environment;

  • The qualifying entity intends to use the property for substantially the same purposes the property is being used for at the time DOI evaluates the potential transfer;

  • The qualifying entity agrees to provide the U.S. the equivalent of the present value of any repayment obligation or other income stream the U.S. derives from the assets.

DOI would be required to submit a description of actions taken to implement this bill along with a list of conveyances made as part of its annual budget submission to Congress.

Impact

States, tribes, water boards, and power agencies; eligible dams or canals operated by the Bureau of Reclamation; and the DOI.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3281

$1.00 Million
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost about $1 million over the 2017-2022 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced this bill to streamline the process of transferring certain Bureau of Reclamation projects to local water users to incentivize new non-federal investment in water infrastructure and more efficient water management:

“Transferring these low hanging fruit facilities is often a win-win allowing water districts to leverage non-federal financing through ownership equity while also decreasing federal liability. This legislation creates an optional process that can be used to help expedite the transfer of these easy projects through a streamlined administrative process while still maintaining important oversight. Prior title transfers have proven that local water users can do a better job managing something they own than when it is on the federal ledger.”

House Democrats expressed opposition to this bill, writing:

“In sum, H.R. 3281 irresponsibly incentivizes the privatization of public resources, reduces Congressional oversight, limits public input in the federal decision-making process, and fails to protect the interests of numerous stakeholders including American taxpayers, tribes, fishing groups, and environmental and recreational interests. For these reasons, we oppose H.R. 3281 as written.”

This legislation passed the House Natural Resources Committee on a 17-12 vote and has the support of one cosponsor, Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA).


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: 66North / iStock)

AKA

Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act

Official Title

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate the transfer to non-Federal ownership of appropriate reclamation projects or facilities, and for other purposes.

    This seems like a simple call. Transfer of power away from the federal government to municipalities is a great way to decentralize power and reduce the overhead of federal programs. Giving local control to local agencies that are more in touch with the needs of the people they govern is the right move.
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    I’m sick to death of the privatization of natural resources. It hasn’t worked out well so far. There’s little oversight, no accountability and absolutely no transparency. Someone from the swamp is always getting paid off and damage is always done. By the time this is found out the lawmakers are now lobbyists and there is no one responsible for the disaster. No. Absolutely not. It should not be easier. It should be much much harder.
    Like (108)
    Follow
    Share
    No, we do not want another Flint incident occurring.
    Like (76)
    Follow
    Share
    Privatization of water infrastructure is what has led to the irresponsible over use by and groundwater mining that endangers the sustainability of our aquifers and watersheds. The for-profit motive of the private sector should not be involved with utilities that are critical to sustain life.
    Like (48)
    Follow
    Share
    More privatization of our natural resources? More pressure to deregulate for corporate profits? Really? NO!
    Like (27)
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    Transferring dams and reservoirs to local operators — be they states, tribes, or local water boards — is a win-win: it promotes non-federal investment in water infrastructure and more efficient management of water resources, while also reducing federal liabilities. Get the federal government out of state and local affairs.
    Like (16)
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    You guys are so misinformed. Transferring from Federal to Local is NOT privatization. It’s allowing the officials of a Local area who know their area to manage the project. If there is a water shortage in LA and they want to repurpose water from a reservoir to storage, should Washington DC manage that or the LA Water Commission? Which makes sense?
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    NO. No. no. Do you Congress people not realize that local people do not want, nor have the money & manpower for the upkeep of these federal projects. WHAT IS WRONG ?? Doesn’t the federal government have the money to take care of their projects??? OF COURSE IT DOESN’T.!!!! The tax cut bill gave all the federal government money to the RICH instead of using it for the upkeep of the country. Seems like Congress just wants the whole country to fall apart.
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    Privatization is a LOSER all the way around. It means nepotism and cronyism. Bad idea.
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    This bill is just a front for privatization of our federal water projects. Cash-strapped local governments and agencies are likely going to end up selling off these projects to private companies. This isn’t about efficiency or better management. This just about making money off our publicly-owned water projects.
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    This is just a baby step in the right direction! The BLM and the EPA are both unconstitutional agencies and should defunded, eliminated and provisions made by Congress that this type of agency never again exist at the federal level. All that they are involved in is usurping state constitutional authority. There is no situation I can imagine where some egghead bureaucrats a 1000 miles away know or understand any situation involving the land, water or air in a specific area better than the people that live and grow there!
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    No! Water systems, CWA projects and FERC dam licensing/relicensing must remain in the hands of the Fed. This idea is all part of former EPA head Scott Pruitt’s sinister plan which he titled “collaborative federalism”, which is nothing more than shifting federal responsibilities to states without funding the projects to cause oversight and regulatory program failures.
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    Private ownership is almost always better in our Republic of USA than control and direction by big government.
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    Why are the federally operated to begin with? I'd like to know where in Article 1 Section 8 Congress is granted this power.
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    Get as much as possible out of federal Govt. control is a good thing. We are the United STATES of America.
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    Privatization is not what we want. This is simply a way for private industry to make money from govt projects. It results in additional wasteful spending of taxpayers money.
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    I’m not sure about this one folks! I’d be very careful! First of all the best engineers get the best jobs! You have some that went to say Perdue, MDOE, Marquette! Cal Tech, MIT! Those are top notch schools and if you cut the mustard you get in with good companies! As for Government hired engineers? That’s a different story! And it’s all about the quality of the engineers involved! Waterways are a very important part of this Republic’s infrastructure and anytime there is any project there are Federal, State and Local engineers involved as well as the high payed ones from private engineering firms as consultants! If you took that all out of the equation and just relied on Local Jethro that was a C student from a state college And works for say the Town of Hooterville! Are you going to thrust that guy to call the shots! Any changes or ongoing maintenance to water related infrastructure like dams, levies, lakes rivers, streams, even beach maintenance must be responsibly done! Enough said!
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    Removing as much Federal Government overreach as possible is always the right choice.
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    It should not be that difficult. The started and the people who live in the area best know and understand their locality.
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    The more local the control, the more accountability you can exercise on those in charge.
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