Daines: Democrats Blocking Funding for Water, Infrastructure Projects is Shameful

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today slammed Senate Democrats for blocking the FY2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, which funds critical infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation – including Montana rural water projects. 

“Despite the vast majority of Democrats supporting this bill during an Appropriations Committee vote this summer, once again Democrats have chosen to block legislation that protects Montanans’ interests and strengthens our national security through increased energy and water security,” Daines stated. “This legislation works to enhance our energy efficiency while funding important projects that modernize our nation’s energy and water infrastructure. It’s disheartening that Senate Democrats continue to put partisan politics ahead of commonsense legislation that works for the American people.”

The FY2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill overwhelmingly passed out the Appropriations Committee on May 21, 2015 on a bipartisan vote of 26-4. 

The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill includes many key provisions for Montana:

Army Corps of Engineers:

  • $5.5 billion, an increase of $45 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $768 million above the President’s budget request. 
  • Encourages the Corps of Engineers to complete environmental review for export terminal projects, like the Gateway Pacific Terminal as expeditiously as possible, in a transparent manner, and in a reasonable timeframe.  
  • Directs the Corps of Engineers to thoroughly consult with the Secretary of Interior, and all affected tribal nations regarding the environmental and economic impacts as well as treaty rights of all tribes affected by export terminal projects, like the Gateway Pacific Terminal undergoing environmental review. 
  • Ensures the Corps of Engineers accounts for the proceeds and administrative costs reimbursed to the Corps of Engineers from cabin sales authorized under the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge Enhancement Act to support conservation efforts in that area.

Watercraft Inspection Stations:

  • Funding is provided for watercraft inspection stations, as authorized by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act Section 1039.
  • The Secretary, in consultation with the States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, is required to establish watercraft inspection stations in the vicinity of reservoirs operated by the Corps of Engineers, including for boat inspection stations in the Columbia River Basin States.
  • These inspection stations are the principal line of defense against the spread of aquatic species at reservoirs operated and maintained by the Secretary, such as entry of zebra and quagga mussels into the Flathead Basin in Montana. 

Bureau of Reclamation:

  • $1.1 billion, $3 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $35 million above the President’s request, for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation to help manage, develop, and protect the water resources of Western states.
  • The bill directs the Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Interior to work with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Natural Resources Committee on legislative solutions to funding authorized Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water Projects.

Environmental Cleanup:

  • $6.0 billion for DOE environmental management activities, $167 million above the FY2015 enacted level, including $5.2 billion for Defense Environmental Cleanup to continue remediation of sites contaminated by previous nuclear weapons production.

Energy Research and Development:

  • $610 million, an increase of $39 million over the FY2015 enacted level, for technologies to advance coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy resources.
  • The bill provides $3.9 million for Section 242 of the Energy Policy Act Water Power Account, $5 million for demonstrations of pumped hydroelectric storage projects.