Federal Water Tap, June 4: Water Pollution from Mexico Spurs Lawsuit
The state of Arizona has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. section of the agency that administers water treaties between the U.S. and Mexico, according to Nogales International. The lawsuit claims that the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission is violating the Clean Water Act by allowing untreated industrial wastewater to flow from Mexico into Arizona.
Clean Water Act
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed an energy and water spending bill that also prevents the Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance on which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Obama administration threatened to veto the bill, according to E&E Daily.
Arizona Water and Power
A House Natural Resources subcommittee will hold a field hearing today, June 4, in Phoenix, Arizona to discuss federal policies affecting the state’s water and energy infrastructure, including Glen Canyon Dam and the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, both near the town of Page.
Eye in the Sky
Midwest cattle farmers complained about the aerial surveillance done by the EPA to monitor farm feedlots for Clean Water Act violations. Reuters reports that the flights are just one tool—and never the sole piece of evidence—that the agency uses for enforcement.
The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that repairs and improvements to Fort Peck Dam in Montana, which was damaged in last year’s Missouri River floods, will cost at least US$225 million. The Corps, however, has funds for only 20 percent of the work, according to the Billings Gazette. The most pressing repairs—to the spillway—will come first.
Fracking in Congress
A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee held a hearing to discuss hydraulic fracturing regulations. Subcommittee chairman James Lankford (R-Okla.) accused the EPA of “regulatory overreach” regarding the agency’s proposed rules for using diesel fuel in fracking.
“We can have safe energy exploration, and production overseen by state and local authorities,” Lankford said. “There is a role for the EPA, but I am very skeptical that thousands of wells in many different types of rock and soil conditions across the country can be overseen from Washington better than by state leaders who know the people and the land.”
The subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Gerald Connolly of Virginia, said he disagreed with almost everything in the chairman’s opening statement. C-SPAN has video of the hearing.
Ready, Set, Flow
On Saturday, ground was broken for the main corridor of a 450-kilometer (280-mile) water supply pipeline for the Navajo Nation. When completed, the US$1 billion Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, which was part of a federal water rights settlement, will provide drinking water for up to 250,000 people.
Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton
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