DENVER (AP) - President Donald Trump has ordered the government to streamline regulations that he says are hindering work on four major water projects in the western United States.
Trump signed a memorandum Friday aimed at helping the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project in California, the Klamath Irrigation Project in Oregon and the federal Columbia River system in the Pacific Northwest.
The memorandum orders the Interior and Commerce departments to speed up environmental reviews, streamline regulations and come up with a timeline to comply with the regulations.
Trump says his directive will be a big help to the arid West, which relies on federally funded water projects to irrigate crops and supply cities.
The president is traveling in the West. He visited Montana Thursday and is now in Arizona.
Interior Dept. news release:
Secretary Zinke Applauds President Trump’s Memorandum on Western Water
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke cheered President Trump’s memorandum on western water. The memorandum directs the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce to work together to deliver western communities the water supplies they need to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and provide water and power to millions of Americans.
“Water is the lifeblood of any thriving economy, and its importance in the West cannot be overstated,” said Secretary Zinke. “We want to use water in the most practical sense, and make sure our water infrastructure is in world class shape for all uses. Working to get our farms the water they need is key to rural prosperity, and I applaud President Trump for making this key issue a top priority of his administration.”
There is widespread recognition that a 'status quo' approach to the longstanding imbalances in the supply and demand of water will not be effective. Under President Trump, Secretary Zinke and Secretary Ross, federal agencies are taking a proactive approach to tackling the water supply challenges that confront western communities. This has entailed operational changes as well as specific new investments in water and power infrastructure. The active collaboration by Interior and Commerce on the areas described in the Memorandum will position western communities to have the most abundant water and power supplies possible, assuring their place in a secure and prosperous American economy.
The Memorandum directs the Interior and Commerce Departments to take a number of specific actions, including:
“For too long, the tail has wagged the dog when it comes to our infrastructure and western water,” said Secretary Zinke. “The environmental laws and regulations that have been in place over decades can be implemented in such a way that supports our economy while still enhancing our environment. That challenge is something that motivates President Trump and this leadership team, and we are taking decisive action.”
The Memorandum on Western Water will re-prioritize agency funding toward accelerated completion of regulatory actions that, in the past, have been drawn out over several years, and result in better outcomes sooner.
In addition to helping safeguard the local tourism and recreation economy, the withdrawal also conserves important habitat for migrating big game species like elk and mule deer. The conservation of these routes has been one of Zinke's priorities as reflected in Secretarial Order 3362, which was signed in January 2018.
Text of proclamation:
October 19, 2018
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY
THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY
THE CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
SUBJECT: Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
Section 1. Policy. During the 20th Century, the Federal Government invested enormous resources in water infrastructure throughout the western United States to reduce flood risks to communities; to provide reliable water supplies for farms, families, businesses, and fish and wildlife; and to generate dependable hydropower. Decades of uncoordinated, piecemeal regulatory actions have diminished the ability of our Federal infrastructure, however, to deliver water and power in an efficient, cost‑effective way.
Unless addressed, fragmented regulation of water infrastructure will continue to produce inefficiencies, unnecessary burdens, and conflict among the Federal Government, States, tribes, and local public agencies that deliver water to their citizenry. To meet these challenges, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce should, to the extent permitted by law, work together to minimize unnecessary regulatory burdens and foster more efficient decision-making so that water projects are better able to meet the demands of their authorized purposes.
Sec. 2. Streamlining Western Water Infrastructure Regulatory Processes and Removing Unnecessary Burdens. To address water infrastructure challenges in the western United States, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall undertake the following actions:
(i) identify major water infrastructure projects in California for which the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce have joint responsibility under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) (Public Law 93-205) or individual responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (Public Law 91-190); and
(ii) for each such project, work together to facilitate the designation of one official to coordinate the agencies' ESA and NEPA compliance responsibilities. Within the 30-day time period provided by this subsection, the designated official shall also identify regulations and procedures that potentially burden the project and develop a proposed plan, for consideration by the Secretaries, to appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind any regulations or procedures that unduly burden the project beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law. For purposes of this memorandum, "burden" means to unnecessarily obstruct, delay, curtail, impede, or otherwise impose significant costs on the permitting, utilization, transmission, delivery, or supply of water resources and infrastructure.
(b) Within 40 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall develop a timeline for completing applicable environmental compliance requirements for projects identified under section 2(a)(i) of this memorandum. Environmental compliance requirements shall be completed as expeditiously as possible, and in accordance with applicable law.
(c) To the maximum extent practicable and consistent with applicable law, including the authorities granted to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (Public Law 114-322):
(i) The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall ensure that the ongoing review of the long-term coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project is completed and an updated Plan of Operations and Record of Decision is issued.
(ii) The Secretary of the Interior shall issue final biological assessments for the long-term coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project not later than January 31, 2019.
(iii) The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall ensure the issuance of their respective final biological opinions for the long-term coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project within 135 days of the deadline provided in section 2(c)(ii) of this memorandum. To the extent practicable and consistent with law, these shall be joint opinions.
(iv) The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall complete the joint consultation presently underway for the Klamath Irrigation Project by August 2019.
(d) The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall provide monthly updates to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and other components of the Executive Office of the President, as appropriate, regarding progress in meeting the established timelines.
Sec. 3. Improve Forecasts of Water Availability. To facilitate greater use of forecast-based management and use of authorities and capabilities provided by the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (Public Law 115-25) and other applicable laws, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall convene water experts and resource managers to develop an action plan to improve the information and modeling capabilities related to water availability and water infrastructure projects. The action plan shall be completed by January 2019 and submitted to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
Sec. 4. Improving Use of Technology to Increase Water Reliability. To the maximum extent practicable, and pursuant to the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (Public Law 102-575, title XVI), the Water Desalination Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-298), and other applicable laws, the Secretary of the Interior shall direct appropriate bureaus to promote the expanded use of technology for improving the accuracy and reliability of water and power deliveries. This promotion of expanded use should include:
(a) investment in technology and reduction of regulatory burdens to enable broader scale deployment of desalination technology;
(b) investment in technology and reduction of regulatory burdens to enable broader scale use of recycled water; and
(c) investment in programs that promote and encourage innovation, research, and development of technology that improve water management, using best available science through real-time monitoring of wildlife and water deliveries.
Sec. 5. Consideration of Locally Developed Plans in Hydroelectric Projects Licensing. To the extent the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce participate in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing activities for hydroelectric projects, and to the extent permitted by law, the Secretaries shall give appropriate consideration to any relevant information available to them in locally developed plans, where consistent with the best available information.
Sec. 6. Streamlining Regulatory Processes and Removing Unnecessary Burdens on the Columbia River Basin Water Infrastructure. In order to address water and hydropower operations challenges in the Columbia River Basin, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy, and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works under the direction of the Secretary of the Army, shall develop a schedule to complete the Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement and the associated Biological Opinion due by 2020. The schedule shall be submitted to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality within 60 days of the date of this memorandum.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
DONALD J. TRUMP