Daines Works to Improve Montana’s Energy and Water Development

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines today worked to improve the future of Montana energy and water development.


This afternoon, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the bipartisan FY2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.


“We need to provide the necessary tools to restore American energy dominance and keep our communities strong,” Daines stated. “I’m thrilled to secure important resources that deliver reliable water to Montanans.”

During the mark-up the committee unanimously adopted Daines’ amendment to ensure farmers can use their water rights to grow industrial hemp in states where industrial hemp cultivation is allowed. The Bureau of Reclamation has a policy banning the use of federally controlled water for growing controlled substances, including industrial hemp. However, the 2014 Farm Bill allowed state departments of agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp. This difference creates uncertainty for farmers across the West who are growing, or wish to grow, industrial hemp using water from federal projects. Limiting the implementation of the pilot program stifles new business opportunities for farmers and slows the growth of industrial hemp products.


Daines secured the following resources for Montana:


Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project (LYIP) – Daines secured language encouraging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation to reaffirm their support for resolving issues impacting local agriculture producers and fisheries. The bill also directs the Corps and Bureau of Reclamation to refrain from reallocating funding from the proposed fish passage project until judicial challenges to the project are resolved. LYIP provides a critical source of water to close to 400 farms and irrigates 50,000 acres of cropland across eastern Montana and North Dakota that produce sugar beets, barley, alfalfa, beans and other crops. 

Watercraft Inspection Stations – Daines secured $6 million for watercraft inspection stations, early detection monitoring and rapid response. The spread of invasive mussels has had a costly impact on Montana’s ecosystem, obstructing irrigation and hydropower infrastructure and negatively impacting the economy. Watercraft inspection stations are one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of invasive mussels and serve as a first line of defense. 

Section 408 Reviews – Daines secured funding and language that directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to process permits for export terminals as expeditiously as possible and provide a report to Congress on these permits for projects like the Millennium Bulk Terminal in Washington state. This will help move forward the terminal, which will allow 48 million short tons of Montana, Crow Tribe and Wyoming Powder River Basin coal access to Asian markets (Decker mine, Spring Creek mine, Signal Peak mine, Big Metal mine on Crow Reservation). The terminal has the potential to create 300-400 coal jobs in the Powder River Basin.

Clean Coal Technologies – Daines secured $342 million for the U.S. Department of Energy to foster carbon capture and storage technologies for new and existing power plants. 

Bureau of Reclamation – Daines secured $1.3 billion for the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation to help manage, develop and protect the water resources of Western states. This includes $48 million for Bureau of Reclamation rural water projects to help projects like Fort Peck/Dry Prairie Rural Water System and Rocky Boy/North Central Montana Rural Water System complete construction sooner and deliver clean water to rural communities in Montana. This money includes an additional $33 million specifically for Montana projects including Canyon Ferry Unit, East Bench Unit, Fort Peck Reservation/Dry Prairie Rural Water System, Helena Valley Unit, Hungry Horse Project, Huntley Project, Lower Marias, Lower Yellowstone Project, Milk River Project, Missouri Basin O&M, Rocky Boys/North Central Montana Rural Water System, Sun River Project and Yellowtail Unit.


WaterSMART grants – Daines secured $24 million to for Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART grants. This program has been successful in saving water while protecting Montana’s agriculture economyThe bill also includes $2.3 million for Bureau of Reclamation watershed management, more than doubling FY17 enacted levels. This funding has helped Montana build capacity to help maximize the use of WaterSMART grants. Several Montana irrigation districts and watershed groups use this program to strengthen irrigation operations, and conserve water and wildlife habitat:

  • City of Bozeman, Sunset Hills Cemetery and Lindley Park Water Conservation Project:  $300,000 for upgrades to Story Ditch.
  • Huntley Project Irrigation District, Tunnel 2 Lining Project (Billings): $1,000,000 to improve operational efficiency of Tunnel 2. 

Indian Energy – At Daines’ request the bill directs the Office of Indian Energy to better facilitate communication amongst different federal agencies regarding rules, regulations and actions like EPA’s Power Plan, affecting energy development on Indian lands.

Army Corps of Engineers Operation and Maintenance – Daines secured $9.1 million specifically for Montana projects including Fort Peck Dam and Lake and the Libby Dam. These projects provide essential hydroelectric power and flood control, while also offering expansive recreation and fishing opportunities in northeast and northwest Montana.

Indian Water Rights Settlements – Daines secured language encouraging the Bureau of Reclamation to budget more consistently with the need for time sensitive-funding for Indian water rights settlements, such as the Blackfeet water rights settlement, which Daines enacted into law in the 114th Congress

Energy Programs – Daines secured $11.5 billion to prioritize and increase funding for energy programs that encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and that will advance an “all-of-the-above” solution to U.S. energy dominance.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency – Daines secured $1.9 billion for renewable energy development ranging from solar to wind to hydropower to pumped storage activities. 



 Contact: Marcie KinzelKatie Waldman