The Subcommittee on Water and Power held an oversight
hearing today to examine the FY 2012 budget request for
the Bureau of Reclamation. Subcommittee Chairman Tom
McClintock made the following opening statement at the
The Honorable Tom
House Water and Power
Oversight Hearing on “Examining
the Spending, Priorities and the Missions of the Bureau
of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water
today’s hearing, the Water and Power Sub-Committee will
begin the process of restoring abundance
as the principal objective of America’s Federal water
and power policy. We meet today to receive testimony
from the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological
Service on their plans for the coming year. We do so in
conjunction with our responsibility under the Federal
Budget Act to provide guidance to the House Budget
Committee as it prepares the 2012 budget and with our
responsibility under House Resolution 72 to identify
regulations and practices of the government that are
impeding job creation and burdening economic growth.
opinion, all of these hearings and all of the actions
stemming from them must be focused on developing the
vast water and hydro-electric resources in our nation.
The failure of the last generation to keep pace with our
water and power needs has caused chronic water shortages
and skyrocketing electricity prices that are causing
serious economic harm.
addition, willful policies that have deliberately
misallocated our resources must be reversed.
California’s Central Valley, where 200 billion gallons
of water were deliberately diverted away from vital
agriculture for the enjoyment and amusement of the
2-inch Delta Smelt is a case in point. These water
diversions have destroyed a quarter million acres of the
most fertile farmland in America, thrown tens of
thousands of farm families into unemployment and
impacted fruit, vegetable and nut prices in grocery
stores across America.
Northern Arizona, 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity –
enough to power a million homes – has been lost due to
environmental mandates for the humpback chub.
Klamath, the federal government is seeking to destroy
four perfectly good hydroelectric dams at the cost of
more than a half billion dollars at a time when we can’t
guarantee enough electricity to keep refrigerators
running this summer. The rationale is to save the
salmon, but the same proposal would close the Iron Gate
Fish Hatchery that produces 5 million salmon smolt each
Meanwhile, funds that ought to be going to water and
power development are instead being squandered on
subsidizing low-flow toilets, salmon festivals, tiger
salamander studies and grants to private associations
whose principal activity is to sue the federal
also thrown hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars
into wildly expensive conservation programs that do
little or nothing to develop new water and power
days are over.
the objective of this sub-committee to restore the
original – and as yet unfulfilled -- mission of the
Bureau of Reclamation – to develop and utilize our
nation’s vast water and hydroelectric resources to build
a new era of abundance and prosperity for our nation.
might add, to complete the greening of the west, to tame
the environmentally devastating cycle of floods and
droughts and to assure the perpetuation and propagation
of all species through expansion of fish hatcheries and
other cost-effective means.
seek to inventory all of our potential water and power
resources, establish and apply a uniform cost-benefit
analysis to prioritize financing for those projects that
produce the greatest benefits at the lowest costs, and
to restore the “beneficiary pays” doctrine that assures
those who benefit from these projects pay for these
projects, protecting general taxpayers of one community
from being plundered for projects that exclusively
these policies in place, we can fulfill the Bureau’s
original mission, to make the desert bloom and to open a
new era in America where water and power shortages – and
the policies that created them -- are a distant memory.
want to acknowledge the past work of the U.S. Geological
Survey that produced accurate and reliable data
necessary for sound resource policy and management.
Today I will merely express the expectation that it will
take stronger steps to resist efforts to politicize or
compromise its work. I especially endorse Mr.
Werkheiser’s statement that “the public deserves to know
whether its investments are having tangible results.”
that this administration will become a partner in this
new era of abundance rather than an obstacle. The
rationing of shortages has never solved a shortage –
only a policy of abundance can do that. We have wasted
not only money but time, and we can afford to waste no
more of either.