This week, President Obama signed into law the Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act [H.R. 6060]. The legislation was introduced on June 29, 2012 by Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01). It passed in the House on September 19, 2012, and in the Senate on January 1, 2013 under Unanimous Consent.
The Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act modifies the Department of Interior's Recovery and Implementation program to improve the protection and recovery efforts for four endangered fish species: the Humpback chub, Razorback sucker, Bonytail chub, and the Colorado pikeminnow. Importantly, the new law includes a provision to ensure that during protection and recovery efforts, there will be a continuation of the operations that provide water and power to homes and businesses.
"I am pleased that this legislation received bipartisan and bicameral support. This bill makes much-needed improvements to the recovery programs for these endangered fish and ensures that homes and businesses throughout the intermountain West continue to receive water and hydropower.
The new law enables revenues from power producers to be used toward recovery and protection efforts and helps ensure that funds are no longer used for unnecessary and redundant purposes.
"This new law improves upon the way we utilize federal resources and is just part of the broader efforts to reduce wasteful spending. I am pleased that we have been able to implement new policies that not only improve recovery efforts but also ensure the continued multiple-use of water resources from the Colorado River," said Congressman Bishop.
The law makes the following revisions to the current Recovery Implementation Program to improve operations and accountability by:
reauthorizing recovery programs paid for by power users that receive hydroelectricity from the federal Colorado River Storage Project
strengthening reporting requirements on the status of the Endangered Species Act listed fish, determining projected dates for delisting, and providing information on how power revenues are being utilized for base funding.
limiting funding transfer fees from historic levels of 22% to 3%, thereby reducing wasteful overhead. This is consistent with other Department of Interior programs. This includes limiting unnecessary travel of federal employees from their duty stations to Washington, D.C. for the sole purpose of lobbying congress in order to advocate for recovery programs. Resources spent on travel detract from funds that could be utilized in recovery and mitigation efforts.