ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (House of Representatives - May 24, 2006)
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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to express my support of the House version of the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007, and I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this important measure.
I commend Chairman HOBSON and Ranking Member VISCLOSKY for their work on this bill. I believe it is a good start for addressing our Nation's water infrastructure and energy research needs, especially given the budget constraints.
As a water user in Colorado's San Luis Valley, I know and understand water issues, and I can't emphasize how important it is to invest back into local water infrastructure. Without this investment, I fear we will continue to see a decline in the management of this irreplaceable resource--water is the lifeblood of our rural communities.
The House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill would provide $5 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $923 million for the Bureau of Reclamation, and $24.6 billion for the Department of Energy. Of this amount, $1.9 billion is provided for energy research, development, and demonstration and conservation deployment--an amount $20 million above the previous year and $55 million above the Administration's request.
I am pleased the committee included funding for three important projects which I had requested back in March for the 3rd District of Colorado. First and foremost, the committee included $57.4 million in funding for construction of the Animas-La Plata Project. This funding level represents a $4 million increase over the FY 2006 funding level.
Completion of the A-LP will provide a much-needed water supply in the southwest comer of our state for both Indian and non-Indian municipal and industrial purposes. It will also fulfill the intent of a carefully negotiated settlement agreement in the mid-1980s to ensure the legitimate claims of the two Colorado Ute Tribes could be met without harm to the existing uses of their non-tribal neighbors.
Since 2002, the Bureau of Reclamation has made much progress, and work has been completed or initiated on many key project features. While I had hoped we could achieve a funding level closer to the Bureau of Reclamation's current capability of $70 million, I appreciate the committee's decision to increase the project funding level. If we can speed up completion of the project, then we avoid costly delays, saving taxpayer money.
I am pleased that the FY 2007 Energy and Water Appropriations bill also includes $350,000 for the Arkansas River Habitat Restoration Project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation with the City of Pueblo, Colorado has completed 95 percent of the project including fish habitat structures along a 9-mile section of the river below Pueblo Dam through downtown Pueblo. This funding would be used to complete the project which is an important environmental restoration project for the project.
The committee also provided a $789,000 appropriation for the Army Corps of Engineers to engage in operations and maintenance at Trinidad Lake, Colorado. While I appreciate the funding for this project, I am disappointed that the committee chose to reduce its funding by almost half of last year's level. Trinidad Lake is a multipurpose project for flood control, irrigation and recreation, and was authorized by the 1958 Flood Control Act. I realize we are under tight budget constraints but a delay in necessary funding will end up costing us more in the long run.
Finally, I am pleased with the increased funding this bill dedicates for research and development. Some of this money will go directly to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. NREL is home to some of the most innovative renewable energy research in America and even the world. There is also an increase above the Administration's budget request for weatherization grants. This program directly helps the American consumer by assisting them in energy conservation measures. Conservation is the quickest way for consumers to deal with high energy prices.
Given the current budgetary constraints, I believe this bill is a good start. The funding included for Colorado projects is important for improving water related infrastructure in our state. As we move forward with the appropriations process, I will continue the fight to preserve funding for Colorado and the 3rd Congressional District.
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