Amidst much fanfare, on Friday President Trump released a Presidential Memoranda (much like an Executive Order, yet different?) directing Federal agencies to work together to reduce regulatory burdens on Western water deliveries. It appears that the main thrust of the Memoranda is for NOAA Fisheries (which has Endangered Species Act oversight over certain fish species) to be more highly coordinated with the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, who has oversight over the Federal Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Federal Bureau of Reclamation.
Interestingly, the Memorandum actually leads off by noting that “[d]uring the 20th Century, the Federal Government invested enormous resources in water infrastructure throughout the western United States to reduce flood risks to communities….” This might lead one to believe that the Memoranda actually addresses flood risk issues. But in fact, that is the only reference to flood in the Memoranda. Nonetheless, it is an interesting action and could foretell the Administration’s willingness to provide streamlining in the flood risk reduction arena as well.
Here is the White House release on the Memoranda:
REDUCING REGULATORY BURDENS: President Donald J. Trump’s Administration is reducing regulatory burdens that harm reliable water access in the West.
- President Trump is signing a memorandum to reduce regulatory burdens and promote more efficient environmental reviews of water infrastructure projects in the West.
- Decades of uncoordinated regulatory actions have diminished the ability of Federal infrastructure to deliver needed water and have increased costs in the West.
- Court actions dictating water operations have further complicated the regulatory environment.
- The President is directing the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce to:
- Streamline regulatory processes and remove unnecessary burdens.
- Develop a timeline for completing compliance requirements for major water projects.
- Responsibly expedite ongoing environmental reviews.
- Convene water experts and resource managers to develop an action plan for improving seasonal forecasts of water availability.
- Expand the use of technologies to improve the delivery of water and power.
- Consider the views of local operators during hydroelectric relicensing proceedings.
IMPROVING WATER RELIABILITY: President Trump is working to increase water reliability for families, farmers, and cities across the West.
- President Trump is committed to ensuring Western communities have the water supplies they need to maintain our economic prosperity.
- Federal water projects in the West irrigate millions of acres of farmland, provide water and power to millions, and support more than $48 billion in economic activity.
- The President’s memorandum will benefit major water infrastructure projects in order to more effectively meet the demands of water users in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
- The Administration will expedite biological opinions for the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project in California, Klamath Irrigation Project in Oregon, and the Federal Columbia River System in the Pacific Northwest.
- Expedited regulatory processes will provide certainty for California farmers who need more water to restore farmlands crippled by drought and regulation.
PROTECTING ENDANGERED SPECIES: The President’s memorandum will ensure a timely review process without compromising environmental protections under the Endangered Species Act.
- The memorandum establishes timelines for environmental reviews of infrastructure projects, allowing the best information to guide conservation of endangered or threatened species.
- The timelines allow for robust environmental review processes.
- Agencies will make determinations regarding endangered and threatened species based on the best available scientific and commercial data.