From the bill: “This bill authorizes the Department of the Interior to convey U.S. interest in an eligible reclamation project or facility to an agency of a state political subdivision, a joint action or powers agency, a water users association, or an Indian tribe or tribal utility authority that holds a water service contract for such property and that has the capacity to continue to manage the property for the same purposes for which it has been managed under reclamation law, if: (1) Interior notifies Congress in writing of the proposed conveyance at least 90 days in advance, and (2) Congress does not pass a joint resolution disapproving the conveyance. A facility that generates hydropower marketed by a power marketing administration shall not be eligible for such conveyance.” Two of the 3 DFL Reps present for the roll call voted opposite Jason Lewis, as did 176 other Dems in the House. We therefore regard Lewis’s vote as being against progressive values.
Why This Bill Is Against Our Values:
“H.R. 3281 would authorize de facto privatization of federal infrastructure across the Western United States. Specifically, it permits the Secretary of Interior to transfer title (i.e. ownership) of many federally-owned Bureau of Reclamation water projects and facilities to non-federal entities without Congressional approval. … Under existing law, transferring ownership of a Reclamation asset requires specific Congressional authorization. The bill removes this longstanding requirement to reduce Congressional oversight and irresponsibly incentivize the privatization of public infrastructure. H.R. 3281 also permits federal lands to be given away without compensation [to taxpayers]. … H.R. 3281 also fails to require consultation with all affected stakeholders before a federal asset is transferred.” (Source: Dissenting Views, Committee on Natural Resources, House Report 115-334)
“H.R. 3281 would authorize de facto privatization of federal water infrastructure across the Western United States. H.R. 3281 also fails to ensure fair taxpayer compensation for lost assets, fails to require consultation with all affected stakeholders – such as tribes, fishing groups, and environmental and recreation interests – before a federal asset is transferred, and encourages poorly planned title transfers that have the potential to harm the environment.” (Source: Democrats, Natural Resources Committee)
“This bill encourages the irresponsible privatization of valuable federal assets, such as dams and reservoirs, while weakening congressional oversight and limiting public input in the decision-making process. Existing transfer procedures should remain in effect.” (Source: Countable)