Eye on Washington - Apr/May 2016

April, 2016



Washington Doldrums
Might be a Good Thing

The Presidential election cycle is sucking most of the air out of the national political room.  In addition, every single seat in the US House of Representatives is up for re-election and 34 of the 100 US Senate seats are up for grabs in 2016. Senator Boxer announced last year that after 23 years in Congress, she will not seek re-election. Her Senate seat is highly sought after. As a result of both the Presidential elections and so many members of congress working on re-election there is a lot of arm waving and posturing to satisfy constituents back home, but expectations are low for passage of many bills. Here are some
possible exceptions:

 

Huffman & ANWR
(Alaska National Wildlife Refuge)

The House didn’t pass an amendment authored by Rep. Huffman to permanently protect ANWR’s Coastal Plain as wilderness, but Huffman was able to get nine Republicans to vote for the bill, which in a committee overshadowed by Rep. Young (R-AK) is not an easy task. Young, who hails from California and is a Chico State University graduate, has represented Alaska in Congress since 1973 and has been consistently aggressive about opening up ANWR for oil and gas drilling.

Rep. Huffman has stated he will continue to fight for protection of ANWR and has posted a petition you can sign here: www.jaredhuffman.ngpvanhost.com/form/-8407527211593758720.

Water & Drought

Senator Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the newest retread of her earlier drought/water bill. This version is S.5533 the “California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act’’. 

The bill incorporates some of the technological and conservation fixes for California’s drought that Rep. Huffman (D-CA) introduced last year—such as increased water recycling and research and development to diminish environmental impacts of desalinization (a program studied here at HSU). However, S.2533 also pushes for infrastructure measures such as raising the dam height on Shasta Dam and moving forward with the construction of new dams.  The bill also circumvents some biological opinion procedures for endangered salmon and delta smelt. Feinstein’s bill in its current form does not have Huffman’s support. TheNEC added its name to a sign-on letter in February to stop the bill.

Rep. Garamendi (D-CA) has announced he not only supports Feinstein’s bill, but will soon introduce a companion bill in the US House.  

Public Land Grab

Rep. Bishop (R-UT), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, is circulating a “discussion draft” of a bill that would begin to give lands managed by federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service, to states to manage or develop.  This legislation is not expected to pass but Bishop has introduced bills to toward this goal since 2011.

Rep. Bishop has stated clearly the only reason he has included over 2 million acres of wilderness and about 300 miles of wild and scenic river designations in his bill is to reach a compromise with vocal environmental opposition.   Reactions to the bill have been mixed, and it is uncertain if the recent Malheur National wildlife refuge/Bundy dust-up has helped or hurt  Bishop’s efforts. Bishop and Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) have set up an elaborate, informative website, but it does not clearly explain how much of the 18 million acres would no longer be administered by the federal government for all the people of the US.