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Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - March 2, 2012

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On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 1837, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Reliability Act, which marked the first time in decades that Congress has considered a stand-alone California water bill. I co-sponsored this bill because, as a farmer, I understand the importance of ensuring a reliable, sustainable water supply for the people of the Central Valley. This legislation will save taxpayers $300 million and restore certainty for farmers and families of the Valley, creating jobs and revitalizing the local economy.

Last year was one of the wettest years California has had, and yet South-of-Delta agriculture water storage contractors are looking at only a 30% water allocation this year. To address the lack of water storage in our state, I introduced an amendment that was included in H.R. 1837 and allows for the construction of water storage projects throughout California. In addition, the underlying principles of my bill H.R. 1604 will be incorporated into the language of the act. Section 111 of H.R. 1837 will streamline the regulatory process for projects in the Central Valley Project (CVP) by removing duplicative environmental review processes that delay project delivery. The provision deems the federal requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act satisfied with the completion of the California Environmental Equality Act for CVP projects. The Association of California Water Agencies and the Trinity Public Utilities District agree that my provision will help expedite water delivery and ensure a reliable water source for the Valley.

Of course, water wasn't the only resource at stake in California this week. Our state has seen yet another increase in prices at the pump. An article in the Modesto Bee reported that gas prices jumped 27 cents, in the last week alone. Gas prices are above $4 a gallon, and rising. These prices are jeopardizing our economic growth, and it's time that the Senate and the Administration work with the House to start addressing much needed energy legislation. I've cosponsored three bills -- H.R. 1229, H.R. 1230, and H.R. 1231 -- to increase the production of domestic energy and curb gas prices here at home, and all three are awaiting Senate action. We need to explore newer, cleaner energy sources and begin to utilize the resources we have within our borders, so that we can reduce our foreign dependence, alleviate the burden of high gas prices, and put people back to work now.

In an effort to protect our assets and natural resources, my subcommittee passed the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2011, H.R. 2903, in a legislative markup yesterday. I sponsored the bill, which will reauthorize funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency consistent with prior funding levels. This bipartisan legislation streamlines emergency preparedness programs and reforms the agency's mitigation, disaster response, and recovery efforts. From floods to fires and everything in between, in California we all understand the importance of emergency preparedness. While we cannot control natural disasters, we can work to have a quicker, more efficient response and recovery, and also plan ahead to mitigate the impacts these disasters have. The passage of my bill will provide a framework in which FEMA can implement up-to-date policies to effectively communicate about emergencies, so that we can have a fast and effective warning system to alert people of impending natural disasters.

Next Tuesday, I'm hosting another teletown hall at 6 p.m. PST. If you'd like to participate, please contact my Modesto office at 209-579-5458 to put your name on a V.I.P. call list and be one of the first numbers dialed. I look forward to speaking with many of you during the call next week, and I encourage you to continue to spread the word about our weekly newsletter and stay up to date by visiting my website, facebook, or twitter pages.

Have a great weekend.

Sincerely,

JEFF DENHAM


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