Sending Office: Committee on Natural Resources – Minority Staff
Please join me in opposing H.R. 3281, an initiative from President Trump’s infrastructure plan that will authorize the de facto privatization of public water infrastructure owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation)
owns much of the public water infrastructure in the American West, including hundreds of dams, canals, and other associated infrastructure. Reclamation’s infrastructure helps deliver water to millions of Americans and serves numerous stakeholders including
municipal water users, farmers, tribes, fishermen, and environmental and recreational interests.
H.R. 3281 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to administratively relinquish ownership of Reclamation water infrastructure without Congressional approval. Under existing law, Congress is responsible for overseeing and approving the divestment of
these federal water projects. While Congress has periodically determined that relinquishing select water projects is in the public interest, H.R. 3281 irresponsibly gives away Congress’ current oversight and approval authority and limits Congress’ power to
make sure any divestment carried out by the Trump administration is a good deal for taxpayers and affected stakeholders.
H.R. 3281 also fails to protect numerous stakeholders affected by the operation of Bureau of Reclamation infrastructure. Many of the Bureau of Reclamation’s water projects serve numerous stakeholders and often must be operated in a manner that balances conflicting
stakeholder interests. Transferring ownership to a single water user or stakeholder will in many cases result in significant harm to the many other stakeholders impacted by the operation of federal water projects, including municipalities, tribes, fishing
groups, and environmental and recreation interests.
Worst of all, H.R. 3281 is a federal giveaway at taxpayers’ expense. The bill would allow the Secretary of the Interior to dole out publicly owned infrastructure and other federal assets to private interests without appropriate taxpayer compensation. For
example, the bill fails to require that taxpayers be compensated for the loss of publicly owned lands and mineral interests.
H.R. 3281 is rightfully opposed by numerous organizations including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, the Western Environmental Law Center, and the League of
United Latin American Citizens.
Please join me in voting no on H.R. 3281 – a bill that irresponsibly authorizes the de facto privatization of public resources, reduces Congressional authority and oversight, and fails to protect the interests of numerous stakeholders including American
taxpayers, tribes, fishing groups, and environmental and recreation interests.
Raúl M. Grijalva
Natural Resource Committee
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0