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Congressman Ken Buck

Representing the 4th District of Colorado

Congressman Ken Buck Fights for Colorado Water

June 21, 2017
Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kyle Huwa, 202-225-4676

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Ken Buck spoke on the House floor about H.R. 1654, the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act. This legislation places the Bureau of Reclamation within the Department of the Interior in charge of coordinating project permitting among State and Federal governments on federal lands, allowing for a more streamlined process. Congressman Buck has pushed for federal changes to water project permitting since he entered Congress, especially in light of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), a multi-county water storage effort that would impact most of Northeastern Colorado. NISP and similar projects face delays that have lasted over a decade as they jump through hoop after hoop with various federal agencies at various levels of government. The permitting of the NISP project has already cost Colorado communities over $15 million and has dragged on for over 13 years. H.R. 1654’s reform of the permitting process would help eliminate duplication and excessive requirements in water project permitting, speeding-up a process that would otherwise take years.

“In Colorado, water is tough to come by, which makes water storage a necessity. That’s why H.R. 1654 is so important,” Congressman Ken Buck stated. “We need to streamline the water project permitting process so that future projects like NISP don’t take over a decade to win a permit.”

Watch this video for Congressman Buck’s floor speech: https://youtu.be/jQG3dyeTtUY

For more information on NISP and water permitting, visit Congressman Buck’s website: https://buck.house.gov/buckstopshere-part1.

Text of the speech is below:

I thank the gentleman from Washington and my colleague on the Rules Committee, Mr. Newhouse, for yielding to me.

Mr. Speaker, in the West, water is life.

Coloradans must wisely steward the precious water flowing through our lands. And that’s why we’re so focused on water storage projects.

Unfortunately, many water storage projects in my state face significant setbacks in permitting due to a long list of regulatory checkboxes. Local, state, and federal agencies have all their own requirements.

For the past several years, I’ve followed multiple important water storage projects on the front range of Colorado that deeply impact Coloradans. Year after year, the shovels remain untouched as the water projects inch their way through the regulatory permitting process. Water projects should not take over ten years to permit and then only a few years to build.

Much of this delay occurs because each level of government—local, state, and federal—requires their own studies and permitting checklists, even though many of those requirements are the same or only slightly different.

H.R. 1654 makes this process more efficient, allowing the Bureau of Reclamation to coordinate the federal and state permitting processes, so that we can avoid unnecessary duplication and so that we can better unify the approval requirements.

H.R. 1654 offers a more streamlined approval process for our water projects, but still empowers state and federal governments to fulfil our duties to protect communities and the environment. 

This is a good government bill. We’re simply asking different levels of government to work together so that our water projects can earn the permits they rightly qualify for.

No water project should take 10 years to gain approval, but too many have.

H.R. 1654 ensures that projects on federal lands will have a clear, more efficient permit application process.

We owe this bill to the people of Colorado.

We owe this bill to the people of the West.

We owe this bill to everyone in this country who relies on fresh, clean drinking water. To the farmers who need water for their crops. To the ranchers who need water for their livestock. To the anglers who need water for their recreation.

I’m supporting H.R. 1654 for these people. I ask my colleagues to support this important legislation as well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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