Rep. Devin Nunes's district aligns with the majority of the water districts that are members of the Friant Water Users Authority. The authority gets its water from Lake Millerton, behind the Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River, in the foothills east of Fresno. Several years ago, as the result of a federal judge's strong suggestion, the authority entered into an agreement with a number of environmental groups, represented in court by the Natural Resources Defense Council, that would limit the authority's water supply to the extent that the river could flow again for the first time in more than 60 years, which would allow salmon once again to use it.
While a majority of the authority's members agreed with this settlement and money was eventually provided by Congress to rehabilitate sections of the river, thus avoiding what would have been a more draconian decision by the federal court, the settlement rankled some members and pretty much the entire political class, even in areas not directly affected by the settlement. Nunes is known in the San Joaquin Valley for his absolute and adamant opposition to the settlement.
Perhaps the administration's evident willingness to reconsider the Central Valley Project, of which the Friant-Kern Canal is a part, has encouraged Nunes to make some of the political moves he has made lately in Washington. Opposition, obstruction and deceit are his typical modes of behavior/ -- blj
Trump considers sending more water to California farmers
SAN FRANCISCO – The Trump administration said Friday it will look at revving up water deliveries to farmers from California’s Central Valley Project, the largest federal water project in the United States, in what environmental groups called a threat to protections for struggling native salmon and other endangered species.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation formally served notice it would begin looking at changing the operation of the massive California water project to maximize water deliveries. Spokeswoman Erin Curtis called it the first step in what would likely be an 18-month analysis.
The water project is a network of 18 dams and reservoirs and 500 miles of canals and aqueducts that draw water from the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, which are part of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.
Launched in the 1930s, the water project has helped make California’s Central Valley the United States’ richest farm region. It also has contributed to driving several once-plentiful species of smelt, salmon and other native animals toward extinction, biologists and environmental groups say.
Doug Obegi, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group, contended in an email Friday the move represented “the latest attempt by the Trump administration to roll back protections for salmon and other endangered native fisheries … in order to increase water supplies” for the state’s agricultural water agencies.
Curtis, the Reclamation spokeswoman, called the effort a priority for the current administration.
Cutbacks of water deliveries for the project’s customers during the recently ended five-year California drought — including cutbacks prompted by rules protecting endangered native species also struggling in the drought — helped prompt the decision to look at possibly redoing the rules for operating the water project, Curtis said.
So did new U.S. legislation last year that encouraged more big water construction projects and water deliveries for Western farmers, Curtis said.
Federal authorities will seek public comment through Feb. 1.
Devin Nunes, targeting Mueller and the FBI, alarms Democrats and some Republicans with his tactics
By Karoun Demirjian
Rep. Devin Nunes, once sidelined by an ethics inquiry from leading the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, is reasserting the full authority of his position as chairman just as the GOP appears poised to challenge special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
The California Republican was cleared in December of allegations he improperly disclosed classified information while accusing the Obama administration of exposing the identities of Trump affiliates on surveillance reports. Since clearing his name, Nunes has stepped up his attacks on Mueller’s team and the law enforcement agencies around it, including convening a group of Intelligence Committee Republicans to draft a likely report on “corruption” among the investigators working for the special counsel.
Although Nunes has not officially wrested his panel’s Russia probe back from the Republicans he deputized to run it, the chairman’s reemergence as a combative Trump loyalist has raised alarm among Democrats that the future of the investigation may be clipped short or otherwise undermined. Even some of Nunes’s GOP allies have expressed concern about his tactics, prompting rare public warnings that he should temper his attacks on federal law enforcement.
“I’m interested in getting access to the information and not the drama,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said last month, when Nunes began threatening contempt citations for FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in the wake of revelations that former Mueller team members had exchanged anti-Trump texts.
Republican lawmakers and Fox News question the integrity of the FBI, as special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe intensifies. (Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)
More recently, Gowdy said that his “heart would be broken” if Nunes follows through on reported plans to issue a corruption exposé about the FBI, citing concerns that issuing such a report outside the context of a comprehensive investigation of the Justice Department could prove damaging to law enforcement.
Gowdy, a member of the Intelligence panel who also chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, suggested that Nunes has taken some of these steps without the express blessing of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has been involved in crafting the GOP’s multipronged approach to examining a string of allegations from Russian election interference to alleged mismanagement at the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.
A spokesman for Nunes declined to comment.
But Nunes’s moves coincide with what Democrats say is a coordinated GOP effort to shutter the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, publicly absolve President Trump of the most serious allegations against him, and refocus the House’s resources against the law enforcement officials, such as Mueller, who continue to investigate Trump.
For months, Democrats have kept an unofficial count of the ways they say Nunes worked behind the scenes during the time he was under ethics investigation to slow or stymie the Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. Nunes never relinquished his sole, unchecked authority to sign off on subpoenas even as he handed the day-to-day operations to Reps. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), Gowdy and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.). People familiar with the committee’s work estimated that Nunes’s effective veto cost Democrats dozens of requests for interviews and documents that were never sent out, despite repeated entreaties from the minority side.
This includes requests for subpoenas to obtain additional testimony from key figures in the probe who Democrats say were not forthcoming enough in interviews — among them Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. Democrats surmise they might have compelled them to return if not for Nunes’s resistance.
Republicans have dismissed such complaints as political posturing. Conaway said that he has received every subpoena approval he has requested from Nunes, while others pointed to the steady stream of witnesses who sat for interviews with the Intelligence Committee — and challenged Democrats to name who they say is missing.
“Adam’s list is pretty much every character in any Dostoevsky or Tolstoy novel,” Gowdy said, referring to the Intelligence panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California. “I get the intrigue and the mystery of these unusual-sounding names, but at some point you have to tie it back to what we’re looking at.”
“You can interview anybody that’s ever met a Russian in the government and it’s not going to get you any closer,” said Rooney. “Ten months, how many witnesses? I want to know, ask them how much longer they want to go. How many more witnesses do they need to hear, and specifically which witnesses, and why?”
But to Democrats, the march of witnesses in and out of the committee’s secure interview facility in the U.S. Capitol building basement has provided little assurance the probe is being run properly.
The packed schedule, sometimes featuring two or three overlapping interviews per day, has sparked complaints from Democrats that it is impossible to fully prepare for or monitor the investigation’s progress. Even when members are able to focus on one witness at a time, people familiar with the probe said, relevant requested documents often fail to materialize until after the interview has concluded — and the interviewees are hardly ever invited back.
The order of interviews has also been a point of ongoing dispute. While Senate Intelligence Committee leaders boast of a methodical process that starts with peripheral players and builds to key witnesses, the House Intelligence Committee’s order is comparatively haphazard and unstructured — almost designed, critics say, to give the probe a “veneer of respectability” while effectively giving investigators whiplash.
Nunes’s hand in such decisions was never direct, people familiar with the probe said. During the period he was under an Ethics Committee investigation, he never once attended a closed-door meeting at which the Russia probe was discussed — something both his allies and critics attest to. But at least one of his senior committee staff members was always present at such sessions to help update members, question witnesses and otherwise run the probe, multiple people said. Even Republicans acknowledge it was difficult to distinguish between staff members’ allegiance to the committee and their loyalties to Nunes.
“I don’t know where his staff ends and HPSCI” begins, Gowdy said, referring to the House Intelligence committee by its official acronym. “Some of them are apolitical nonpartisan members of his staff, and I’m not smart enough to know who’s what.”
Once the House Intelligence Committee concludes its investigation, it is unclear what precise role remains for Nunes in the House GOP’s continued push to investigate allegations of bias and other misconduct in law enforcement. The House Committee on Oversight and the Judiciary Committee have already launched an inquiry into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. And a joint investigation by Nunes and Gowdy into the Justice Department and FBI’s review of circumstances surrounding an Obama-era deal giving Russia a stake in the American uranium market seems to have lost its initial momentum.
If there is one aspect of the Russia probe that seems destined to outlast the House Intelligence Committee’s preferred timeline, it is Nunes’s investigation of Fusion GPS, the firm behind a dossier detailing Trump’s alleged connections to Russian officials, financiers and exploits in Moscow. Nunes’s subpoena of the firm’s bank records is caught up in a court battle, and the chairman’s staff is in touch with the office of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), according to the senator, who is also looking into reports that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party paid for research that ended up in the dossier’s
The dossier continues to be a focus of the president in tweet storms seeking to discredit Mueller’s probe. Most recently, he blasted the FBI for focusing on the “Crooked Hillary pile of garbage” dossier “as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign.” In recent weeks, he has also tweeted encouragement of Nunes’s efforts to unearth information about the dossier from the “deep state.”
Nunes, meanwhile, appears to have made up his mind about the House Intelligence Committee probe into the allegations surrounding Trump and Russia, expressing his convictions in an interview with Fox News.
“We have no evidence of Russia collusion between the Trump campaign” and Russia, Nunes said.
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Key federal officials with influence over the Central Valley Project.
Department of Interior
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
Secretary Ryan Zinke
Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the 52nd Secretary of the Interior on March 1, 2017.
A fifth-generation Montanan and former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, Ryan Zinke built one of the strongest track records in the 114th Congress on championing sportsmen’s access, conservation, regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development, and smart management of federal lands.
“As a former Navy SEAL, Ryan has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win,” President Donald Trump said in nominating the former congressman, who built an impressive portfolio on Interior issues ranging from federal mineral leases to tribal affairs to public lands conservation.
Growing up in a logging and rail town near Glacier National Park, Ryan has had a lifelong appreciation for conserving America’s natural beauty while honoring Teddy Roosevelt’s vision of multiple-use on our public lands. He has consistently led the efforts to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund in Congress, and has also been a firm advocate for our nation’s sportsmen to gain access to our public lands with the SCORE Act and SHARE Act. Zinke also coauthored the Resilient Federal Forest Act, which initiated new reforms for revitalizing America’s timber towns and preventing wildfires by emphasizing the collaborative process.
Zinke is widely praised for his voting record supporting the Teddy Roosevelt philosophy of managing public lands, which calls for multiple-use to include economic, recreation and conservation. He has pledged to explore every possibility for safely and responsibly repealing bad regulations and using public natural resources to create jobs and wealth for the American people.
“I am honored and humbled to serve Montana and America as Secretary of the Interior,” Zinke said. “I shall faithfully uphold Teddy Roosevelt’s belief that our treasured public lands are ‘for the benefit and enjoyment of the people’. I will work tirelessly to ensure our public lands are managed and preserved in a way that benefits everyone for generations to come. Most importantly, our sovereign Indian Nations and territories must have the respect and freedom they deserve. I look forward to making the Department of the Interior and America great again.”
As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees who are stewards for 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and other public lands. The department oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 567 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.
Ryan Zinke represented the state of Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2014. Before that he served in the Montana State Senate from 2009 to 2011, but the bulk of his public service was 23 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer.
Zinke was commissioned as an officer in the Navy in 1985 and was soon selected to join the elite force where he would build an honorable career until his retirement in 2008. He retired with the rank of Commander after leading SEAL operations across the globe, including as the Deputy and Acting Commander of Joint Special Forces in Iraq and two tours at SEAL Team Six. Zinke was the first Navy SEAL elected to the U.S. House and is the first SEAL to serve as a cabinet secretary.
Zinke holds a Geology degree from the University of Oregon, where he was an All-PAC 10 football player; a Master’s degree in Business Finance from National University; and a Master’s degree in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego. Ryan and his wife Lolita (Lola) have three children and two granddaughters. Zinke is proud to be an adopted member of the Assiniboine Sioux Tribe at the Fort Peck Reservation in Northeast Montana.
US Bureau of Reclamation
News & Multimedia
On November 16, the United States Senate confirmed the nomination of Brenda Burman as the 23rd Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation.
Burman has 25 years of experience working on western issues, with an emphasis on water and natural resources. She previously served in the Department of the Interior as Reclamation’s Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs and as Interior’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. Her career spans experience in Congress as legislative counsel for water and energy for Senator Jon Kyl to state agencies, including The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and most recently, the Salt River Project in Arizona. She was a judicial clerk for the superior courts of the State of Wyoming and Coconino County in Arizona and worked as an attorney in private practice in Arizona. She began her career as a park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park.
Burman holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arizona College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College. She is licensed to practice law in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.
The Bureau of Reclamation is a contemporary water management agency and the largest wholesale provider of water in the country. It brings water to more than 31 million people, and provides one out of five Western farmers with irrigation water for farmland that produces much of the nation’s produce. Reclamation is also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the Western United States with 53 power plants.
Updated: November 17, 2017
US Bureau of Reclamation
Jeff Rieker selected as operations manager for Reclamation's Central Valley Office
Media Contact: Erin Curtis, 916-978-5100
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation Mid Pacific Region announces the selection of Jeff Rieker as operations manager for its Central Valley Office in Sacramento.
Similar to his prior position as the deputy operations manager, Rieker will oversee the day-to-day water and power operations of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project, one of the largest water storage and transport systems in the world. The CVP is comprised of 20 dams and reservoirs, 11 powerplants and more than 500 miles of canals and aqueducts within California’s Central Valley.
“Jeff has been doing an outstanding job for Reclamation for nearly 20 years,” said deputy director, Pablo Arroyave. “I have every confidence in him as our operations manager here, and I expect his continued success in overseeing one of the Nation’s premier water conservation and delivery systems.”
Rieker began his career with Reclamation in 1999 as a student and hydraulic engineer in Denver. Since that time, Rieker has served as a hydrologic modeler, a river and reservoir operations forecaster, and has overseen a variety of water resource planning and management issues for Reclamation in Carson City, Sacramento and in Washington D.C., where he served as the Region’s liaison and representative in the Commissioner’s Office.
Rieker holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, a master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in water resources planning and management from Colorado State University, and a Ph.D. in the same subject from Colorado State University. Rieker is also a registered professional engineer in the state of Nevada.
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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.