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Legislation & Policy Committee Meeting Summary — July 14, 2022

Link to Meeting Recording: https://youtu.be/rZ_V3fnbOQc

Call to Order—Kirsten Wallace, UMRBA; Chair called the committee to order at 2:00pmCT.

1.  Introductions of participants on the call: Kirsten Wallace (L&P Committee Chair), John Anderson and Geoff Bowman (Van Scoyoc and Associates), Beth Callaway (ICWP Executive Director), Andrew Dehoff (ICWP Chair), Chris Shutes (guest presenter), Richard Roos-Collins (guest presenter), Drew Dehoff (ICWP chair), Chuck Sensiba (guest presenter), Dave Steindorf (guest presenter), Peter Evans, Beth Brown, Camila Garcia Ferreyra Olsson, Katherine Zitsch, Chace Tavelli, Jeff Cowley, Amy Shallcross, Kevin Pregent, Pam Bush, Jen Verleger, Phone: Christopher Estes, Joy Loughry, Mary Pavel.

2. Presentation: Richard Roos-Collins of Water and Power Law Group. Topic: “Uncommon Dialogue: Hydropower Licensing and Reform”

    • Additional presenters:
      • Mary Pavel – Partner, Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP
      • Chuck Sensiba – Partner, Troutman Pepper
      • Chris Shutes – Conservation Director, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
      • Dave Steindorf – American Whitewater

Richard Roos-Collins began with a brief introduction of the Uncommon Dialogue legislative package that seeks to amend the federal Power Act. It is a statute that regulates non-federal hydropower in most states and this package represents the most serious effort to reform that legislation in decades. The package was submitted to Congress on April 4th, 2022 and a briefing is expected to Congressional sponsor prospects soon. Mary, Chuck, Chris and Dave all gave perspectives on the reasons for their involvement in the reform package coalition, including tribal interests, non-governmental organization engagement, setting schedules for relicensing, as well as industry considerations on hydropower relicensing.  Richard offered to provide a follow-up discussion for more in-depth examination of the legislative package if ICWP members are interested. Action Item: Beth to follow up with ICWP members to gage interest in following the package; Richard is also available for one-on-one discussions for anyone who is interested.

3. Updates from Van Scoyoc Associates to committee members—Please refer to the above link to the recording for details. Highlighted topics:

    • Key upcoming dates for legislation
      • July 29th – House is out of session
      • August 5th – Senate’s last day of session before August recess
      • September 30th – end of FY2022
      • November 8th – election midterms
    • Notable Congressional activities:
      • Week of July 18th – The House is taking up 6 annual appropriations bills for FY2023. They include the USDA, EPA/DOI spending bill, financial services, military, transportation housing urban development, energy/water (Corps). TBD on homeland security bills. The House’s goal is to move 9 appropriations bills before they go home for the summer recess. Right now they are trying to finish the defense authorization act.
      • The Senate schedule is less certain. They will likely head to a continuing resolution in September that will last through the election. There will likely be a resolution to address FY2023 between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
      • Overall, the current state of politics is a weak White House and weak economy. If Republicans flip to a majority in the House it will be biggest flip since Hoover was president. A shift to a Senate Republican majority could be more likely.

4. Policy topics in the works

        • WRDA 2022 updates
          • Geoff’s take – It’s likely that WRDA will probably be an after-election event.
          • House WRDA bill – The floor vote occurred on June 7th. This version of the bill includes more than 115 environmental infrastructure projects. There will not likely be any amendment opportunities in House.
          • Action item: ICWP to follow up with House and Senate staff in August; further discussion needed on Corps PPA and liability issues.
        • USGS WUDR grants
          1. Action items: 1) Beth to assess the landscape for legislation and provide an update at the August L&P meeting; 2) Beth to follow-up with USGS and conduct an inventory of why some states have not fully utilized funding and which states have capped out funding.
        • Federal Water Subcabinet – ICWP’s letter was submitted to Water Subcabinet members in June; we will likely will hear follow up sometime in August or thereafter once subcabinet members have met.
        • US Chamber Resiliency Coalition — ICWP Board and members are invited to participate in the following events:
          1. Congressional staff briefing on National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act– July 25-27th in Washington DC
          2. Policy Roundtable – 8am-1pm on July 27th in Washington DC

5. Legislation to track (most are a list of carryover items from the previous L&P meetings):

    • Infrastructure Packages—water related opportunities
    • USGS/DOI FY23 President’s Budget
    • Support for NOAA-NWS Extreme precipitation estimating tools and improved water supply forecasts— Atlas 14 development with IIJA funds
    • 2372—Recovering America’s Wildlife Act—contains water technical assistance funding and seems to have fairly broad support.
    • R.7792 Water Data Act
      1. Introduced May 20th
      2. Action item: L&P committee to revisit the value of a future letter of support as the bill progresses (in similar fashion to support letters for the WRDA 2022 bills).

6. Next meeting – Set for Thursday, August 25th at 2pmCT.

    • Christopher Estes is on deck to present on public trust doctrine



Legislation and Policy Committee:  Stay abreast of national legislation important to ICWP membership; Educate and advocate for state/interstate positions to Congress and federal agencies

2019-2021 Accomplishments:

  • Submitted a letter on of Interior Re-organization
  • Sent letter to ASA Rd James regarding PAS funding for full range of authorized purposes
  • Submitted WRDA20 support letter to Senate EPW committee
  • Submitted WRDA20 support letters to House T&I committee, Senate EPW and to House and Senate leadership
  • *NEW* Submitted WRDA22 support letter to House T&I committee.

Issues for 2022 Workplan

  • WRDA2022 Preparation Topics
  • USGS Streamgaging support—getting letter to more audiences and reviewing stakeholder list for omissions
    1. Opportunity for a states’ support letter
    2. Whether to expand to Water Use and other topics beyond Streamgaging
  • Drought Planning/Preparedness-NIDIS Support (& the DEWS)
    1. Baseline funding for USDM
  • Support for a new ag-centric product (better capture flash drought)
  • Reauthorization topics for WUDR
  • National Water Model—promoting water supply forecasting capabilities
  • NOAA/DOI Improved Forecasting Action Plan
  • NWS Atlas 14 – Funding via IIJA
  • Legislation Following:

2022 Action Plan Items

  • Provide broader leadership on PPA Liability and Indemnification Barriers
    • Pursue Congressional hearing on this issue
    • Arrange for meeting with USACE Office of Counsel
  • Develop Advocacy “How To” webinar series
  • Discussion of lessons learned at NGWOS basins are added