Last Tuesday, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) introduced H.R. 1507, the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act (SEAPA), in the House of Representatives. The bill, previously known as the Salmon Planning Act, authorizes independent economic and scientific review of federal salmon restoration efforts in the Pacific Northwest by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). If enacted, the authorized studies will look at all options, including dam removal, in order to ensure that Congress has the most up-to-date, comprehensive, and unbiased information to make decisions about the future of salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia and Snake River Basin. H.R. 1507 was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. A companion bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate.
Last week the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held subcommittee and full committee mark-ups on H.R. 1495, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA). A full House vote on WRDA may take place before the House breaks for its two-week April recess. Even after Hurricane Katrina brought to light the need for modernization of the methods the Army Corps of Engineers uses to manage the nation's water resources, the Committee-passed bill is similar to a bill passed by the House in the summer of 2005, prior to Katrina and without adequate reform provisions. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is expected to mark up its own version of WRDA soon, which is likely to be similar to the Senate version passed in 2006. If Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is unable to convince her committee to adopt reform provisions that address the need for independent peer review of major projects, prioritization of the $58 billion backlog, upgrades to the principles and guidelines that dictate how the Corps operates, and increased mitigation of unavoidable harm to rivers and wetlands, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will likely attempt to add these provisions by amendment when WRDA reaches the Senate floor. Both the House and Senate are planning to reject the addition of any new projects to WRDA to help speed its passage. A second WRDA bill, authorizing additional water resource projects, may be introduced later in the 110th Congress after the existing bill is signed into law.
Last week, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) introduced S. 868, a bill that would designate the segment of the Taunton River in Massachusetts between the confluence of Town River and Matfield River in Bridgewater to Mount Hope Bay in Fall River as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) introduced a similar bill, H.R. 415, in January.
2) Senate Sends FY 2008 Budget Resolution to the Floor
Last Thursday, the Senate Budget Committee marked-up their budget resolution for fiscal year 2008. The panel voted 12-11 to approve the almost $3 trillion budget resolution. Included in the resolution is $31.322 billion for environmental and natural resource spending, an increase over the $29.88 billion for environmental spending in the Senate's budget last year but still lower than the FY 2005 funding level of $33.039 billion. The Senate budget resolution is expected to receive floor time later this week. The House Budget Committee is anticipated to mark-up its budget resolution for FY 2008 later this week, followed up by a floor vote sometime next week.
The Bush Administration's FY 2008 budget request for the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of the Energy (DOE), and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will undergo a few more hearings this week. Subcommittees of the Senate Committee on Appropriations will consider the budget requests for the DOI on Tuesday and the DOE on Wednesday. The budget request for NOAA will be considered in hearings of the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science on Wednesday, and the House Committee on Science and Technology on Thursday. Finally, on Thursday this week the Senate Committee on Appropriations will hold a mark-up on the FY 2007 Supplemental Appropriations. Please see the Congressional Calendar below for a complete listing of hearings this week.
For more information on priority river protection and restoration programs and the river community's recommended funding level for FY 08 please see the FY 08 River Budget.
3) Water Bills to Pass the House this Week
This week the House of Representatives is expected to pass two water-related bills under a suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority to gain approval.
H.R. 902: More Water and More Energy Act of 2007, sponsored by Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), would direct the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey to identify the technological and economic obstacles to recycling water used in the development of oil, natural gas and coalbed methane.
H.R. 839: The Arthur V. Watkins Dam Enlargement Act, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to study raising the height of the Arthur Watkins Dam in Utah to store additional water for the Wasatch Front. The bill would limit the federal share to half of the study's costs.
4) Congressional Calendar
Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2007
Hearing on the FY 2008 budget request for the Department of the Interior Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies 10:00 AM, 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Hearing on energy supply and conservation for the Department of Energy House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water 10:00 AM, 2362B Rayburn House Office Building
Hearing on determining critical infrastructure and how to protect it House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security 10:00 AM, 2358 Rayburn House Office Building
Hearing on utility CEO's perspectives on climate change House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality Hearing 10:00 AM, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Hearing on energy policy and climate change on public lands House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources 2:00 PM, 1334 Longworth House Office Building;
Hearing to examine energy innovation
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation 2:30 PM, 253 Russell Senate Office Building
Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2007
Joint hearing on climate change, featuring former Vice President Al Gore House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality and House Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment 9:30 AM, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Hearing on the FY 2008 budget request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science 10:00 AM, 2237 Rayburn House Office Building
Hearing on the FY 2008 budget request for the Department of Energy Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development 2:00 PM, 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Hearing to examine Vice President Al Gore's perspective on global warming Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works 2:30 PM, 106 Dirksen Senate Office
Thursday, Mar. 22, 2007
Mark-up of the FY 2007 Supplemental Appropriations Bill Senate Committee on Appropriations 2:00 PM, 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Hearing on the FY 2008 budget proposal for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) House Committee on Science and Technology 2:00 PM, 2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Monday, Mar. 26, 2007
Hearing on the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme and market-based trading programs Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
2:00 PM, G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Hearing on the growing conflict between fishing, hunting, and energy development on federal lands House Committee on Natural Resources 10:30 AM, 1324 Longworth House Office Building