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Subcommittee examines
site security costs, transparency

WASHINGTON - The House Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power today held an oversight hearing to further protect our Nation's dams and reservoirs from post-Sept. 11 terrorist threats and bring about more cost transparency for those paying the bills for this effort.

Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman George Radanovich (R-Calif.) said the hearing was the first step, but more work needs to be done to resolve both goals.

"It sounds like we need to work together on possible legislation to protect our facilities, bring certainty and transparency for consumers, and allow Congress to have more oversight," Radanovich said at the end of today's hearing.

The Bureau of Reclamation responded to Sept. 11 by creating a comprehensive site security program aimed at protecting its water and power infrastructure from terrorist attacks. Similar to the response after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the federal government picked up the cost of this effort due to the flood control nature and national benefits of these projects. Five years later, however, the agency's customers are being required to pay for some of these costs, but are not being told what they are paying for or for how long. These costs are then passed on to retail water and power consumers, many of whom are farming families with limited incomes. Despite this, many customers are willing to pay for a portion of these costs, as long as there's adequate transparency and cost certainty in the program.

"No one disagrees with the need for an enhanced security program, but there are questions over who will ultimately pay for these costs," Radanovich said. "This hearing was a way to help answer those questions and perform important oversight. We must work together to protect our critical infrastructure and the people who depend on those facilities, but not balance the costs on the backs of those rural communities already experiencing the hardship of drought and endangered species regulations."

Witnesses at the hearing included: Mr. Richard Erickson, Secretary-Manager, East Columbia Basin Irrigation District; Mr. Thomas Graves, Executive Director, Mid-West Electric Consumers Association; Mr. Russ Harrington, Financial Director, Central Valley Project Water Association; Mr. Jay Moyes, Attorney at Law, Moyes Storey, Phoenix, Arizona; Mr. James Feider, Director, Redding Electric Utility; Mr. Will Lutgen, Executive Director, Northwest Public Power Association; Mr. Jon Lambeck, Manager of Operations Planning, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Mr. Larry Todd, Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation

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