Markup of Coastal Habitat, Water Rights, Indian Land, Geothermal, Outdoor Recreation, and Anti-Efficiency Legislation

Wed, 17 Jan 2024 15:15:00 GMT

On Wednesday, January 17, 2024, at 10:15 a.m., in room 1324 Longworth House Office Building, the Committee on Natural Resources will hold a mark-up on the following bills.

The following bills will be debated (move by regular order):
  • H.R. 5482 (Rep. Hageman), “Energy Poverty Prevention and Accountability Act of 2023” (Amendments to H.R. 5482 must be drafted to the amendment in the nature of a substitute), to require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to identify laws, regulations, and state standards that impact at-risk communities and categorize barriers to at-risk communities from accessing “reliable and affordable energy,” defined to be fossil fuels
  • H.R. 6474 (Rep. Steel), To amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to expedite geothermal exploration and development in previously studied or developed areas

The following bills are expected to move by unanimous consent:

  • H.R. 1246 (Rep. Hageman), To authorize leases of up to 99 years for land held in trust for federally recognized Indian tribes;
  • H.R. 2950 (Rep. Huffman), “Coastal Habitat Conservation Act of 2023” (Amendments to H.R. 2950 must be drafted to the amendment in the nature of a substitute);
  • H.R. 5770 (Rep. Neguse), “Water Data Improvement Act” (Amendments to H.R. 5770 must be drafted to the amendment in the nature of a substitute);
  • H.R. 5874 (Rep. Ciscomani), To amend the United States-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act to reauthorize the United States-Mexico transboundary aquifer assessment program;
  • H.R. 6443 (Rep. Issa), “Jamul Indian Village Land Transfer Act”;
  • H.R. 6492 (Rep. Westerman), “Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act” or the “EXPLORE Act”.

hearing of the full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Witnesses:
  • Stephen A. Edwards, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Virginia Port Authority
  • Roger Millar, Secretary of Transportation, Washington State Department of Transportation
  • Jeffrey G. Tucker, Chief Executive Officer, Tucker Company Worldwide, on behalf of Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA)
  • Lauren Benford, Controller, Reiman Corporation, on behalf of Associated General Contractors of America
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee 2167 Rayburn
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Federal Electric Vehicle Incentives Including the Federal Government's Role in Fostering Reliable and Resilient Electric Vehicle Supply Chains

Thu, 11 Jan 2024 15:00:00 GMT

The purpose of this hearing is to examine federal electric vehicle incentives including the federal government’s role in fostering reliable and resilient electric vehicle supply chains.

Witnesses:
  • David M. Turk, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Adewale O. Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee 366 Dirksen
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Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Members’ Day Hearing

Thu, 11 Jan 2024 15:00:00 GMT

The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing entitled, “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Members’ Day Hearing” at 10:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, January 11, 2024, in room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
    Water Resources and the Environment Subcommittee 2167 Rayburn
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The Biden Administration’s Protections of the Outer Continental Shelf

Thu, 11 Jan 2024 15:00:00 GMT

On Thursday, January 11, 2024, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building, the Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing titled “Examining the Biden Administration’s Limits on Access to the OCS: Impacts on Consumers, States, and Operators.”

Hearing memo Witnesses:
  • Chris Blankenship, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • David Holt, President, Consumer Energy Alliance, Houston, TX
  • Mark Heavens, Chief Clerk, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX
  • Erandi Treviño, Organizer, Public Citizen, Houston, TX
  • Dr. Walter Cruickshank, Deputy Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • House Natural Resources Committee
    Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee 1324 Longworth
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Divest from Militarism, Invest in Life! A conversation about war and climate change

Wed, 10 Jan 2024 17:00:00 GMT

Join 350.org for a critical conversation moderated by Dharna Noor featuring Dr. Neta Crawford (Costs of War Project), Ramón Mejia (About Face & Grassroots Global Justice Alliance), Ashley LaMont (Honor the Earth), and Zaki Mamdoo (350.org).

Sprawling militaries — like the United States’ massive network of bases around the globe — are enormous sources of fossil fuel emissions. In fact, the U.S. military alone emits more than Portugal and Denmark.

Plus, while war rages, it reduces the international community’s cooperation to tackle the climate crisis and takes resources away from investments needed to address the impacts of climate change as countries double down on military spending.

As we start the year with multiple wars happening around the world and an already escalating climate crisis, these intertwined issues are more urgent than ever.

That’s why 350 is hosting a conversation about militarism and the climate crisis on Wednesday, January 10 at 9 am PT/12 pm ET. We invite you to join us to learn why we, as climate activists, must fight for a world without war.

RSVP

Moderator:
  • Dharna Noor, The Guardian
Panelists:
  • Dr. Neta Crawford (Costs of War Project)
  • Ramón Mejia (About Face & Grassroots Global Justice Alliance)
  • Ashley LaMont (Honor the Earth)
  • Zaki Mamdoo (350.org).

National Park Service’s Deferred Maintenance Backlog: Perspectives from the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General

Wed, 10 Jan 2024 15:15:00 GMT

On Wednesday, January 10, 2024, at 10:15 a.m., in room 1324 Longworth House Office Building, the Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the Subcommittee on Federal Lands will hold a joint oversight hearing titled “National Park Service’s Deferred Maintenance Backlog: Perspectives from the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General.”

Hearing memo Witnesses:
  • Cardell Johnson, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office
  • Mark Greenblatt, Inspector General, Department of the Interior

The National Park Service (NPS) manages 428 individual units across 85 million acres. There are many challenges facing NPS, with none more pressing than the $22.3 billion deferred maintenance backlog. For decades, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified deferred maintenance as a critical problem for federal land management agencies like NPS, prompting the agency to add federal real property to its “High Risk List” in 2003.3 Unlike routine maintenance, deferred maintenance and repairs are “maintenance and repairs that were not performed when they should have been or were scheduled to be and which are put off or delayed for a future period.” A confluence of factors contributed to the growing deferred maintenance backlog, including aging infrastructure, adjustments in the methodology for calculating deferred maintenance, inflation, supply chain issues, consistently high visitation, and the acquisition of new land or creation of new units for NPS to manage. The failure to keep up with maintenance presents risks to NPS resources, diminishes visitor enjoyment, and creates safety hazards for the public. This means that parks are often replete with crumbling trails, dilapidated visitor centers and campgrounds, leaking wastewater systems, and closed off access points or recreation sites. As the NPS maintenance backlog continued to steadily rise through the 2010s, reaching $12.7 billion by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019, a growing coalition of NPS stakeholders began to push for Congress to provide a solution.6 Administrations of both parties argued that increased funding was vital to decrease NPS’s deferred maintenance backlog, with NPS testifying before Congress that “funding will help substantially reduce the NPS $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog.” In August 2020, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). GAOA established a new, mandatory fund known as the “National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund” (LRF) to address the deferred maintenance needs of NPS and four other land management agencies. The LRF is funded through 50 percent of the unobligated or “miscellaneous” revenues deposited into the U.S. Treasury from all forms of energy development (oil, gas, coal, and alternative or renewable energy), up to $1.9 billion a year for five years ($9.5 billion total). 10 Of the amounts deposited in the LRF each year, NPS receives a 70 percent share ($1.33 billion). In addition to the LRF, NPS receives billions of dollars in funding to address deferred maintenance through regular appropriations and retained recreation fees.

Since GAOA’s passage, the LRF has not only failed to reduce NPS’s deferred maintenance backlog, but the backlog has increased by an astounding $9.6 billion. While all five agencies that receive GAOA funding have seen increases in deferred maintenance, no agency’s backlog has increased at the scale of the NPS backlog. After receiving two full years of GAOA funding totaling $2.66 billion, NPS’s backlog rose from $12.7 billion at the end of FY 2019 to $22.3 billion at the end of FY 2022.

In response to questions about how the backlog could increase at such an alarming rate despite billions of dollars in taxpayer funding being allocated to address this problem, NPS largely attributed this increase to changes in its methodology for calculating deferred maintenance. According to the agency, prior to FY 2019, the agency only included construction costs in its estimates of deferred maintenance.15 The agency decided to change this methodology after a review initiated in September 2017 (known as “Project revAMP”) found “data inaccuracy and inconsistency and laborious and costly processes.” Starting in FY 2019, cost estimates were expanded to “[align] with contemporary industry standards” and include design, compliance, and construction and project management.17 NPS also transitioned away from calculating deferred maintenance by “using the summation of work order costs,” which were inherently inconsistent and unreliable, to a more comprehensive system. In its FY 2024 budget justification, NPS elaborated that this system will consist of three components: (1) Parametric condition assessments (PCA) for industry standard assets; (2) Federal Highways Administration assessments for infrastructure, such as paved roads, parking lots, bridges and tunnels; and (3) work orders for concessions-occupied assets and non-industry standard assets. This methodology change was partially implemented starting in FY 2022 and is expected to be fully implemented by FY 2024 (September 30th of this year). It is important to note that these methodology changes and subsequent NPS explanations have created significant confusion about the true nature of NPS’s backlog. For example, in 2022 the GAO said that “Interior officials explained that an $8.8 billion increase in deferred maintenance and repairs from fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2021 was in part the result of the addition of design, compliance, and construction management costs to estimates at the National Park Service.” However, the backlog increased by $7.43 billion between these years, leaving an unexplained $1.4 billion gap. Adding to this confusion, this is also the year that NPS applied a blanket 35 percent markup to its estimates, which alone increased the backlog by $3.7 billion. Further, while a methodology change could explain a portion of the increase in backlog, it does not explain the full extent of the backlog increase. The largest increase in the NPS backlog, from $14.37 billion in 2020, the year GAOA was passed, to $21.8 billion in FY 2021, occurred the year before the new methodology was put into place. Between FY 2021 and FY 2022, the year the agency implemented its methodology change, the backlog only increased by $500 million.

In September 2023, DOI’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report entitled “The National Park Service Faces Challenges in Managing Its Deferred Maintenance.” The OIG found serious discrepancies with NPS’s reporting and tracking of deferred maintenance that “compromise the NPS’ ability to achieve its mission, manage its deferred maintenance, and fulfill its responsibility to ensure the safety of visitors and NPS staff.” In particular, the report found that NPS continues to rely on inaccurate and incomplete data for its deferred maintenance, inappropriately inflated its backlog by 35 percent without sufficient justification, and did not consistently monitor and complete critical Health, Life, and Safety (HLS) work orders. The OIG made eight recommendations to NPS to address these concerns, two of which remain open: (1) developing and implementing policies to more appropriately estimate the cost of deferred maintenance projects and (2) including more accurate estimates for all existing and future work orders. One of the most concerning findings of the OIG is that NPS, as previously mentioned, applied a blanket 35 percent markup to all deferred maintenance projects in 2021, increasing the total backlog by $3.7 billion, without sufficient methodology to support this markup. This markup consisted of increases of 5 percent for compliance, 17 percent for design, 8 percent for construction management, and 5 percent for project management. The OIG reported that while this is consistent with methodology the Federal Highway Administration uses for transportation projects, NPS officials could not provide a rationale or documentation for why it was appropriate to apply this methodology to all deferred maintenance projects, including non-transportation projects. The OIG found that the DOI policy NPS did cite as justification for this “standard” markup “has no reference to a standard markup of 35 percent.” The OIG found that this application may lead to further overestimations of NPS’s backlog, as the 35 percent markup could be duplicative with other markups applied by the agency. Further, the OIG found that this application was inappropriate because it assumed all deferred maintenance would be completed by outside contractors, when a significant portion is completed by NPS staff at a lower cost.

The OIG specifically found that NPS inconsistently entered deferred maintenance work orders in its tracking system (the Facility Management Software System, or FMSS), leading to hundreds of thousands of work orders that were outdated, inaccurate, and were not being properly monitored. The OIG identified 214,000 work orders that were not correctly classified as deferred maintenance, leading overall deferred maintenance estimates to be off by $2.6 billion. The OIG also found that NPS did not properly close out completed work orders, and identified 3,667 open deferred maintenance work orders, totaling $364 million, that had been completed but were still being counted towards the backlog total.

  • House Natural Resources Committee
    Federal Lands Subcommittee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee 1324 Longworth
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Safeguarding Municipal Bonds from Climate Risk

Wed, 10 Jan 2024 15:00:00 GMT

There will be a hearing of the Committee on the Budget on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, 10:00 AM in Room SD-608 to consider: “Investing in the Future: Safeguarding Municipal Bonds from Climate Risk.”

Witnesses:
  • Thomas G. Doe, President And Founder, Municipal Market Analytics
  • Megan N. Kilgore, City Auditor, Columbus, Ohio
  • Dr. Chris Hartshorn, Advisor, Zeus AI
  • Dr. Matthew Kahn, Provost Professor Of Economics And Spatial Sciences, University Of Southern California
  • Dr. Eric Leeper, Paul Goodloe McIntire Professor In Economics, University Of Virginia

EPA Regulations for the Oil and Natural Gas Sector

Wed, 10 Jan 2024 15:00:00 GMT

On Wednesday, January 10, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. (ET) in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials will hold a hearing entitled “Protecting Clean American Energy Production and Jobs by Stopping EPA’s Overreach.” The hearing will examine the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions affecting American oil and natural gas operations, particularly those regulations and programs related to methane pollution.

Hearing memo

Witnesses:

Panel I
  • Joseph Goffman, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Panel II
  • Drew Martin, Managing Member and Director of Finance, Miller Energy
  • Patrick Montalban, Chairman and CEO, Montalban Oil and Gas Operations
  • Mike Oestmann, President and CEO, Tall City Energy
  • Jon Goldstein, Senior Director, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at Environmental Defense Fund
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee
    Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee 2123 Rayburn
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Federal Lands, Hydropower, Wildlife, Water Management, and Other Legislation

Thu, 14 Dec 2023 14:00:00 GMT

The purpose of the business meeting is to consider the legislation on the agenda.

  • Agenda Item 1: A Committee resolution appointing the members of the subcommittees for the 118th Congress.
  • Agenda Item 2: S. 461, a bill to make certain irrigation districts eligible for Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program pumping power, and for other purposes. (Mr. Cramer). Withdrawn.
  • Agenda Item 3: S. 594, a bill to require the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to prioritize the completion of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and for other purposes. (Mr. Heinrich). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 4: S. 636, a bill to establish the Dolores River National Conservation Area and the Dolores River Special Management Area in the State of Colorado, to protect private water rights in the State, and for other purposes. (Mr. Bennet). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 5: S. 1118, a bill to establish the Open Access Evapotranspiration (OpenET) Data Program. (Ms. Cortez Masto). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 6: S. 1254, a bill to designate and expand the wilderness areas in Olympic National Forest in the State of Washington, and to designate certain rivers in Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park as wild and scenic rivers, and for other purposes. (Mrs. Murray). Reported by roll call vote (10-9)
  • Agenda Item 7: S. 1348, a bill to redesignate land within certain wilderness study areas in the State of Wyoming, and for other purposes. (Mr. Barrasso). Reported by voice vote
  • Agenda Item 8: S. 1521, a bill to amend the Federal Power Act to modernize and improve the licensing of non-Federal hydropower projects, and for other purposes. (Mr. Daines). Withdrawn.
  • Agenda Item 9: S. 1634, a bill to provide for the designation of certain wilderness areas, recreation management areas, and conservation areas in the State of Colorado, and for other purposes. (Mr. Bennet). Reported by roll call vote (11-8)
  • Agenda Item 10: S. 1662, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey to the Midvale Irrigation District the Pilot Butte Power Plant in the State of Wyoming, and for other purposes. (Mr. Barrasso). Reported by voice vote
  • Agenda Item 11: S. 1776, a bill to provide for the protection of and investment in certain Federal land in the State of California, and for other purposes. (Mr. Padilla). Reported by roll call vote (10-9)
  • Agenda Item 12: S. 1889, a bill to provide for the recognition of certain Alaska Native communities and the settlement of certain claims under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and for other purposes. (Ms. Murkowski). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 13: S. 1890, a bill to provide for the establishment of a grazing management program on Federal land in Malheur County, Oregon, and for other purposes. (Mr. Wyden). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 14: S. 1955, a bill to amend the Central Utah Completion Act to authorize expenditures for the conduct of certain water conservation measures in the Great Salt Lake basin, and for other purposes. (Mr. Lee). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 15: S. 2160, a bill to amend the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 to authorize certain extraordinary operation and maintenance work for urban canals of concern. (Mr. Risch). Withdrawn
  • Agenda Item 16: S. 2169, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to carry out watershed pilots, and for other purposes. (Mr. Wyden). Withdrawn
  • Agenda Item 17: S. 2247, a bill to reauthorize the Bureau of Reclamation to provide cost-shared funding to implement the endangered and threatened fish recovery programs for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins. (Mr. Hickenlooper). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 18: S. 2581, a bill to extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. (Mr. Crapo). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 19: S. 2615, a bill to amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to provide that Village Corporations shall not be required to convey land in trust to the State of Alaska for the establishment of Municipal Corporations, and for other purposes. (Ms. Murkowski). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 20: S. 3033, a bill to withdraw certain Federal land in the Pecos Watershed area of the State of New Mexico from mineral entry, and for other purposes. (Mr. Heinrich). Reported by roll call vote (10-9).
  • Agenda Item 21: S. 3036, a bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to convey to the State of Utah certain Federal land under the administrative jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management within the boundaries of Camp Williams, Utah, and for other purposes. (Mr. Lee). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 22: S. 3044, a bill to redesignate the Mount Evans Wilderness as the “Mount Blue Sky Wilderness”, and for other purposes. (Mr. Hickenlooper). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 23: S. 3045, a bill to provide for the transfer of administrative jurisdiction over certain Federal land in the State of California, and for other purposes. (Mr. Padilla). Reported by voice vote.
  • Agenda Item 24: S. 3046, a bill to make permanent the authority to collect Shasta-Trinity marina fees. (Mr. Padilla). Reported by voice vote.
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee 366 Dirksen
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