Chair Grijalva Helps Secure Landmark Tribal Water Wins, Saguaro National Park Expansion, Renewable Energy, Insular Resources in End-of-Year Federal Funding Law
Washington D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today highlighted the inclusion of his Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion Act, along with landmark tribal water priorities, renewable energy wins, and Insular provisions as part of the Fiscal Year 2021, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R. 133) set to become law this week. H.R. 133 advances multiple tribal water rights settlements, including the largest water rights settlement in history between the federal government and a federally recognized tribe. H.R 133 would authorize and advance water rights settlements for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana, the Pueblos of Nambé, Pojoaque, Tesuque and San Ildefonso, the Navajo Nation, and the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas.
Chair Grijalva also helped secure the inclusion of numerous other provisions to improve drought preparedness and water supply reliability for communities, economies, and habitats. The bills include investments in innovative research and technology initiatives, water-use efficiency projects, and watershed health activities to benefit fish, wildlife, and downstream communities. The Consolidated Appropriations Act also includes key provisions to provide additional nutrition assistance, broadband investments, and rental assistance to U.S. Territories as well as legislation to advance responsible development of wind, solar, and geothermal energy projects on public lands.
“We’ve worked hard to advance these bills to secure reliable water supplies for Indian Country and western communities, protect our lands, support U.S. Territories, and advance renewable energy. I’m glad to announce we’re set to get them signed into law,” Grijalva said. “Saguaro is already a popular destination for Arizonans and visitors from around the world, and this is an exciting opportunity to permanently protect open space and provide more recreational opportunities in such an important landscape. This expansion will benefit people and nature by increasing parkland in Southern Arizona, improving wildlife habitats, and connecting recreational trails all at the same time. We would not be here today without the community members who have worked with me to get to this point. This is a win for Arizona and the entire country. A big, year-end omnibus bill like this is not the ideal way to legislate, but given that almost nothing moves in the Senate these days, this is what we have to do. There are pieces in this giant bill I don’t support, but overall, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats made the best deal we could and I am pleased that some of our priorities for Southern Arizona, and for public lands and water everywhere, are hitching a ride.”
Grijalva’s Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion Act (H.R. 7098) authorizes a boundary adjustment of Saguaro National Park in the State of Arizona. The House passed Grijalva’s Saguaro bill on Dec. 10, and he has made Saguaro National Park expansion a priority of his tenure at the Natural Resources Committee. The version included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 will increase the park by approximately 1,152 acres. A video message from Chair Grijalva on the passage of H.R. 7098 can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3a0crrq.
The parcels identified for inclusion in the park will protect biodiverse riparian areas, wildlife habitat, scenic views, and archaeological sites and create an important linkage between Saguaro National Park and Pima County’s Sweetwater Preserve. The parcels in question were identified for inclusion in the park based on their high conservation value, the immediate threat of sale, and significant local support.
The bill is supported by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, the Tucson Mountain Homeowners Association, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Trust for Public lands and many other conservation organizations.
Among the other provisions set to be signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, includes a slightly modified version of Chair Grijalva’s Murder Hornet Eradication Act that authorizes a pilot program at the Fish and Wildlife Service to provide assistance to states to eradicate the Asian giant hornet. Additionally, the bill establishes within the Smithsonian Institute the Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino. The Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Rep. José Serrano’s (D-N.Y.) bill to establish the National Museum of the American Latino. This historic achievement will initiate the planning, including site location and design, development, and eventual construction of two new national museums in Washington, D.C.
Natural Resources Sections in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021:
Public Lands and Conservation
Title XVIII – Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Conveyance Act Of 2020
- Authorizes the conveyance of 93 acres of US Forest Service land to facilitate the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota.
Division FF —Other Matters
Title II—Public Lands
SEC. 201. Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion (Rep. Grijalva)
- Authorizes a boundary adjustment of Saguaro National Park in the State of Arizona, increasing the park by approximately 1,152 acres. Passed the House by voice vote on December 10, 2020.
SEC. 202. New River Gorge National Park And Preserve Designation (Sen. Capito/Rep. Miller, R-WV)
- Designates New River Gorge National River in the State of West Virginia as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Senate hearing held on February 22, 2020.
SEC. 203. Designation Of Miracle Mountain (Sen. Lee/Rep. Curtis)
- Designates a mountain in the State of Utah as “Miracle Mountain”. Passed the House on December 17, 2019: 410 - 0 (Roll no. 687).
Division DD—Montana Water Rights Protection Act
- Settles the water rights claims for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation and executes a water rights compact between the federal government, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the State of Montana.
Division FF —Other Matters
TITLE XI—Western Water And Indian Affairs
Sec. 1101. – Bureau of Reclamation Aging Infrastructure Account (Sen. McSally/Rep. Newhouse)
- Establishes an aging infrastructure account to fund the Bureau of Reclamation’s existing extraordinary maintenance program. Reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Sec. 1102. – Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement (Sen. Romney/Rep. Bishop)
- Approves the settlement resolving water rights claims of the Navajo Nation on the San Juan River in the Upper Colorado River Basin in Utah. Passed the Senate as part of S. 886 by voice vote.
Sec. 1103. – Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion (Rep. Lujan/Sen. Udall)
- Finalizes the Aamodt water settlement in New Mexico by increasing the agreed-upon federal cost ceiling by $137 million, extending the substantial completion date by four years (2028), and authorizing the agreement to settlement cost-overruns reached between the United States and the Aamodt settlement parties. Passed the Senate as part of S. 886 by voice vote.
Sec. 1104. – Kickapoo Tribe (Sen. Moran/Rep. Watkins)
- Directs U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to study the Upper Delaware and Tributaries Watershed Plan to facilitate future Congressional consideration of the Kickapoo Tribe Water Rights Settlement Agreement. Passed the Senate as part of S. 886 by voice vote.
Sec. 1105. – Aquifer Recharge Flexibility Act (Sen. Risch/Rep. Fulcher)
- Provides greater flexibility for the Bureau of Reclamation to use its facilities for aquifer recharge. Reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Sec. 1106. – WaterSMART Extension & Expansion (Reps. Huffman/Torres Small/Sens. Harris/Wyden/Udall)
- Increases the authorization ceiling for the WaterSMART program by $170 million, expands project applicant eligibility to nonprofit conservation organizations and makes modifications to project eligibility, prioritization, and cost sharing. Passed the House as part of H.R. 2.
Sec. 1107. – Cooperative Watershed Management Program (Reps. Huffman/Torres Small/Sens. Harris/Wyden)
- Reauthorizes the Bureau of Reclamation’s Cooperative Watershed Management Program for 5 years, and adds representatives from “disadvantaged communities” as participants of a watershed group. Passed the House as part of H.R. 2.
Sec. 1108. – Modification of Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Project, Colorado (Sen. Gardner)
- Changes the non-federal funding requirement of the Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Project from a repayment to cost-share structure. Reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Sec. 1109. – Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration (Rep. Huffman/Sens. Harris/Wyden)
- Establishes an aquatic ecosystem restoration program at the Department of the Interior at $15 million annually for 5 years that will help fund projects to improve the health of fisheries, wildlife and aquatic habitat (modeled after a similar Army Corps of Engineers program). Passed the House as part of H.R. 2.
Sec. 1110. – Clean Water for Rural Communities (Sen. Daines/Rep. Gianforte)
- Authorizes $74 million for the construction of the Musselshell-Judith Rural Water Project and further study of the Dry Redwater Rural Water Project in Montana. Reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Sec. 1111. – Snow Water Supply Forecasting (Reps. Huffman/Harder/Sen. Feinstein)
- Authorizes $15 million for a Snow Water Supply Forecasting program at the Department of the Interior to provide more accurate data about expected runoff that will allow improved water system operations. Passed the House as part of H.R. 2.
Sec. 1112. – Water Technology Investment (R&D) (Rep. Huffman)
- Increases the authorization for desalination research at the Bureau of Reclamation from $3 million to $20 million annually to provide additional resources to study brine management. Passed the House as part of H.R. 2.
Sec. 1113. – Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity (Sen. Thune/Rep. Johnson)
- Extends access to Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) to Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) “297” grant schools, bringing them into parity with federally operated BIE schools and BIE schools operated by Tribes through “638” contracts. Passed the Senate as part of S. 886 by voice vote.
Sec. 1114. – Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans (Sen. Udall/Rep. Khanna)
- Includes urban Indian organizations (UIOs) as institutions eligible to receive reimbursements from the Department of Veterans’ Administration (VA) for any services UIOs provide to Native American VA eligible beneficiaries. Passed the Senate as part of S. 886 by voice vote.
Division A – Sec.119. Highway Infrastructure Program for U.S. Territories.
- Includes $2,700,000 for activities eligible under the Puerto Rico Highway Program and $650,000 for activities eligible under the Territorial Highway Program.
Division N – Sec. 501. – Rental Assistance for U.S. Territories.
- Includes $400,000,000 for making rental assistance payments to eligible grantees in U.S. Territories and Washington, D.C.
Division N – Sec. 704. – Nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
- Includes $614,000,000 for the Secretary of Agriculture to provide grants to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for nutrition assistance to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Division O – Sec. 402 – Caño Martín Peña, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Includes $255,816,000 under the Water Resources Development Act for Caño Martín Peña in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Division CC – Sec. 208 – Medicaid Coverage for Citizens of Freely Associated States.
- Extends Medicaid eligibility to any individual who lawfully resides in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
Sec. 3102 –Program to improve eligible project permit coordination. (Reps. Mike Levin/Gosar)
- Requires the Secretary of the Interior to establish a program to improve interagency cooperation for solar, wind, and geothermal permits on Federal land. Reported out of the Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Sec. 3103 – Increasing economic certainty. (Reps. Mike Levin/Gosar)
- Provides flexibility for the Secretary of the Interior to ensure that solar, wind and geothermal projects are cost competitive on Federal land. Reported out of the Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Sec. 3104 – National goal for renewable energy production on Federal land. (Reps. Mike Levin/Gosar)
- Requires the Secretary of the Interior to set national goals for wind, solar, and geothermal energy production on Federal land no later than September 1, 2022. The Secretary shall seek to permit at least 25 GW of electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal projects by 2025. Reported out of the Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Sec. 3105 – Facilitation of coproduction of geothermal energy on oil and gas leases. (Reps. Mike Levin/Gosar)
- Allows noncompetitive leasing for geothermal energy on Federal lands if it will be coproduced from an existing oil or gas well. Reported out of the Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
Wildlife and Fisheries
Division AA, Title V, Section 508. Murder Hornet Eradication pilot program
- Establishes a pilot program at Fish and Wildlife Service to provide assistance to states to eradicate the Asian giant hornet.
Division M, Title I. Fisheries Disaster Assistance
- Provides $300,000,000 in fisheries disaster assistance to commercial fishing operations, aquaculture firms, the seafood supply chain, charter fishing businesses, and Tribal fishery participants to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
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