|Based on the exchange between Members of Congress and witnesses at yesterday’s House water infrastructure hearing, the Alliance expects good progress to be made in the 117th Congress on the many needs we face across the West.
As we shared in yesterdays email, Dan Keppen represented the Alliance at the first House Natural Resources Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee hearing in this Congress titled, “Building Back Better: Building Resilience for the Economy, Climate, and Ecosystems.” (Links: Full hearing, Alliance testimony).
Mr. Keppen focused on the importance of reauthorizing WIIN, the need for continued federal investment in multi-purpose water facilities, regulatory streamlining for the construction and operation of water projects and protecting water supplies from catastrophic wildfire.
He also emphasized to the committee of “our opportunity to build Western irrigated agriculture back better than ever.”
Ranking Member Cliff Bentz (R-OR) and Republican Subcommittee Members discussed the need for bipartisan and common sense solutions to infrastructure challenges, including the need to promote all-of-the above water and supply policies, hydropower (including pumped storage), and forest restoration aimed at protecting water supplies for the benefit of communities and ecosystems.
The hearing began with a collegial tone as Chairman Jared Huffman (D-CA) asked what the “secret sauce” is that brought the Alliance and Trout Unlimited together for what he called “a win-win” scenario when farmers and conservation groups work together on multiple purpose water projects. The hearing provided a great forum to tout the successful collaboration of the Western Agriculture Conservation Coalition (WACC), a group cofounded by the Alliance in order to find these winning solutions between what had been varied interests.
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) expressed his enthusiasm in what the subcommittee might accomplish this Congress. “This subcommittee has tremendous opportunity to make the necessary contributions to Western water infrastructure.”
Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the full House Natural Resources Committee, summarized each witness’s testimony and made a point to highlight what he liked. A number of positive comments were made by him and others about the Alliance’s collaborative work and written testimony.
“Mr. Keppen, your testimony was excellent. There are too many good things in it for me to elaborate on in the time that we have,” Ranking Member Westerman said.
The Alliance would like to thank Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-OR) for the invitation to appear before the subcommittee, as well as for the exchange and kind words shared publicly.