House Water, Power And Oceans Hearing On FY 2017 Budget Request Gets Heated

2016-03-25T14:19:43+00:00 March 25, 2016|
U.S. Capitol. (Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

(Click to enlarge) U.S. Capitol. (Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Bureau of Reclamation, Western Area Power Administration, and the Bonneville Power Administration found themselves in hostile territory earlier this week at a hearing held by the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans. 

They endured approximately two hours of chastising from the Subcommittee, with Chairman John Fleming (LA-4) leading the way, berating the Administration’s alleged neglect of fisheries science, undercounting red snapper, prioritizing the water needs of fishes over farmers, and expansion of marine monuments. 

Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-4) challenged USFWS Deputy Director Jim Kurth for what he called the “arbitrary closure” of part of Lake Havasu in Arizona to motorized boating.  He even went so far as to call FWS Director Dan Ashe “pathetic” for not attending this hearing, knowing how it was going to play out.  NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, Eileen Sobeck, was questioned by Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo for NOAA’s perceived lack of follow-through when prosecuting fishermen caught shark finning.  She said, “NOAA seems to be spending a significant amount of time advocating for additional enforcement authorities while failing to use the authorities it already has.” 

Ranking Member Jared Huffman (CA-2) shared Delegate Bordallo’s concern over the shark finning case, but also was highly critical of his fellow Subcommittee members, comparing their questioning to “amateur hour stuff” versus any “real science.” 

Other hot button topics raised throughout the course of this hearing were: water pumping restrictions, delays on dam project approvals, and imposing fees on sea urchin exports.  Overall, Subcommittee members expressed concern with the represented federal entities, USFWS, NOAA, Bureau of Reclamation, Western Area Power Administration, and the Bonneville Power Administration.