Federal Water Tap, October 21: Pakistan Aid Package Includes Money for Dam

No, Thanks
The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to consider two water-related cases, Greenwire reports.

One case involves the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that pollution permits are not required to transfer water between sources. The Supreme Court upheld that decision in 2010, but the question now is which court has the jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the agency’s rule — U.S. appeals court or a lower district court? Green groups filed suit in the lower court, giving them more time to make their case than the EPA and industry desired.

The other case the nation’s highest court decline to take on was a challenge from farmers in California’s Central Valley over water supplies controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Foreign Aid
Money for a large hydroelectric dam planned for territory contested by India is part of a $US 1.6 billion military and economic aid package to Pakistan, the Associated Press reports. The State Department will provide roughly $US 20 million for technical studies. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that Diamer Basha Dam, which would be the single largest source of electricity in the country, would cost $US 15 billion.

These small contributions to Diamer Basha help long-term U.S. goals in the region, according to testimony from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in June 2011.

“We believe that investing in projects that support the overall construction of Diamer Basha would attract recognition for U.S. assistance in Pakistan, and convince the Pakistani public that we are here for the long haul,” Clinton wrote in response to a written question by former Senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry discussed energy issues yesterday in Washington, D.C. with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Last month, Pakistan celebrated the completion of Gomal Zam Dam, an irrigation and hydroelectric project built with $US 97 million from the U.S. government. That dam was one of two hydroelectric projects highlighted in a $US 7.5 billion non-military aid package in 2009.

The federal agency that oversees energy infrastructure will begin an environmental review of a proposed facility for exporting liquefied natural gas. The Golden Pass project would add export facilities to an existing import terminal on the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas-Louisiana border. Construction would begin in 2015.

EPA Is Listening
The EPA rescheduled public meetings in Boston and Philadelphia that were postponed because of the government shutdown. The agency is holding 11 meetings across the country to discuss its proposal to limit the amount of carbon dioxide existing power plants can pump into the atmosphere. The first meeting is Wednesday in Atlanta.

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.

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