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March 8, 2007

Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers' Statement From Today's Hearing On Administration's Budget Request For National Water & Electricity Programs;

"Our Legendary Water & Power Infrastructure Helped Make
The West What It Is Today." - Rep. McMorris Rodgers

            Washington, D.C. - The following is U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' (R-WA) statement from today's oversight hearing on the Administration's Fiscal Year 2008 budget request for the Bureau of Reclamation, the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Power Marketing Administrations.

            McMorris Rodgers is the Ranking Member on the U.S. House Subcommittee on Water and Power, which conducted the hearing.

            Attached is a briefing paper with a legislative history and background information on the issues related to today's hearing.

Ranking Member McMorris Rodger's Statement

"Today's hearing is about giving consumers access to affordable and reliable water and electricity while protecting our environment.  

"Our legendary water and power infrastructure helped make the West what it is today.  The vision of our forefathers to build these projects has been the gift that keeps on giving for many generations.  These federal projects have formed our customs, our cultures, and our traditions. Yet, despite their success, the projects are under constant strain due to competing demands, age and from environmental extremists and bureaucrats who want to undermine their importance to our way of life.

"The Bureau of Reclamation's multi-purpose projects have formed the lifeblood of Eastern Washington's economy.   Waters delivered from the agency's Columbia Basin Project have transformed our region into a hotspot of agricultural success.  We have plans to help the region further develop its agricultural water resources and protect the Odessa aquifer.  The agency's irrigation projects also affect every American on a daily basis.  In fact, many of the fruits and vegetables in the grocery aisles here in our nation's capitol were grown using water from federal irrigation projects, such as the Columbia Basin Project.

"The Bureau of Reclamation is at a crossroads in its history, struggling to maintain its infrastructure while adapting to the changing needs of the West.   Today's hearing will examine what the agency is doing to honor its commitments and meet the water supply challenges of the future.

"Today's federal power program also plays a major role in the Pacific Northwest and in other regions of our great nation.   For example, the Bonneville Power Administration provides 40 percent of the electricity sales and 75 percent of the transmission needed in the Pacific Northwest.   The promise of low-cost, renewable hydropower not only helped build the Northwest's economy and agriculture industry, but continues to provide benefits to families and businesses throughout our region and we can't allow that to change.   Without a doubt, the other Power Marketing Administrations provide the same benefits throughout their respective regions.

"Despite the proven benefits in my region, some continue in their never-ending quest to breach the four Snake River dams.  Such a move could add almost $10 a month to a residential customer's bill, encourage more fossil fuel generation to make up for the lost power, remove the base generation needed to back up developing wind power resources and destroy an environmentally friendly barge industry.   At a time when everyone is talking about climate change, it baffles me why anyone thinks it's good public policy to remove clean and renewable hydropower.  I will oppose any legislation or study that fails to consider other factors, such as ocean conditions, in salmon survival.

"The benefits of our western infrastructure are also under attack by those in the halls of the Office of Management Budget.   A financial chess game is being played and it's hurting our constituents.   Once again, OMB analysts have proposed a surplus revenue gimmick that looks good on paper but ignores reality and could lead to a rate increase through administrative means and without Congressional approval.  Although I'm glad the BPA budget provides for needed third-party financing of transmission, the Northwest delegation will once again join together to fight the surplus revenue proposal.  As you are aware, Madame Chair, the same number crunchers also don't want to understand the benefits of water recycling to southern California because they know Congress will come to the rescue by appropriating the needed funding.  The games must stop and real progress must begin.

"We have the privilege of hearing from today's witnesses whose daily job is to keep the water running and the lights on.  I look forward to today's hearing."

For more information, access the Committee on Natural Resources' Minority website at:


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Steve Hansen
Director of Communications
Republican Staff
U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources
1329 Longworth HOB
, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-7749

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