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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Klamath Basin Settlement Agreements: Issues in Brief


Charles V. Stern
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Cynthia Brougher
Legislative Attorney


The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments.

In 2010, the Secretary of the Interior and the governors of Oregon and California, along with multiple interest groups, announced the result of these negotiations: two interrelated agreements (the Klamath agreements), supported by the federal government and signed by numerous other parties. These agreements, known as the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), together aim to provide for water deliveries to irrigators and wildlife refuges, fish habitat restoration, and related actions. The latter agreement lays out a process for removal of four privately owned dams that could eventually result in the largest dam removal project ever undertaken.

Some parts of the Klamath agreements are being carried out under existing authorities. However, in order to be fully implemented, the agreements would require authorization by Congress. Legislation currently before Congress (H.R. 3398 and S. 1851) would authorize the agreements, including authorization of approximately $800 million for federal actions under the KBRA and authorization for the Secretary of the Interior to make a final recommendation related to dam removal that is called for under the KHSA. Congressional consideration of the Klamath agreements could include the advisability of these strategies, whether the federal government is obligated to act beyond current activities in the Klamath Basin, and, if so, the extent and cost of these actions.

This report is intended to provide an abbreviated summary of issues under consideration for Congress. For more detailed information about the Klamath, including a more detailed summary of the Klamath Agreements and related issues, see the companion CRS Report R42157, Klamath River Basin: Background and Issues, coordinated by Charles V. Stern.



Date of Report: January
20, 2012
Number of Pages:
14
Order Number: R4
2158
Price: $29.95

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Klamath River Basin: Background and Issues


Charles V. Stern, Coordinator
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Pervaze A. Sheikh
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Cynthia Brougher
Legislative Attorney

Bill Heniff Jr.
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process


The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments. As is true in many regions in the West, the federal government plays a prominent role in the Klamath Basin’s waters. This role stems primarily from (1) operation and management of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Water Project; (2) management of federal lands, including six national wildlife refuges; and (3) implementation of federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act.

Allocation of the Klamath Basin’s water has been contentious in the past. Controversy peaked in 2001 when the federal government halted irrigation water deliveries to protect species listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Efforts to permanently settle many of the basin’s water and species issues stepped up between 2002 and 2010, and were led by the federal government.

In 2010, the Secretary of the Interior and the governors of Oregon and California, along with multiple interest groups, announced the result of these negotiations: two interrelated settlement agreements, supported by the federal government and signed by numerous other parties. These agreements are meant to address many of the previous conflicts in the basin. The first agreement, known as the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), provides for restoration, water deliveries, and related actions, including a defined range of water supplies for Reclamation project users as well as projects to restore and protect threatened and endangered fish species. The second agreement, known as the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), lays out a process for studies and a decision by the Secretary of the Interior regarding whether the removal of four dams in the Lower Klamath Basin (funded by the states of Oregon and California) would be in the public interest. Together, removal of these dams would constitute the largest dam removal project ever undertaken.

Forty groups are signatories (or “parties”) to the Klamath agreements. Supporters of the agreements include the states of Oregon and California, three area tribes, Reclamation project irrigators, environmental interests, and other groups. Opponents of the agreement include some non-Reclamation project (“off-project”) irrigators, as well as a subset of environmental groups, tribes, and area residents who disagree with some or all of the agreements. While the Obama Administration endorsed the Klamath agreements, Congress has to formally authorize most provisions for the federal government to become a “party” and move forward with most actions.

In order to be fully implemented, both of these agreements require explicit authorization by Congress. Legislation currently before Congress (H.R. 3398 and S. 1851) would authorize the agreements, including approximately $800 million for federal actions (mostly in the KBRA). Considerations related to the Klamath agreements may include whether the federal government is obligated to act beyond current activities in the Klamath Basin (and, if so, to what extent), and what specific strategies should be authorized.

This report is divided into two parts: the first part provides a brief overview of issues in the Klamath Basin, with a focus on the federal government’s role in region. The second part focuses on the Klamath agreements and related issues for Congress in considering this legislation.



Date of Report: January
19, 2012
Number of Pages:
42
Order Number: R4
2157
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2012 Appropriations and Policy


M. Lynne Corn
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The annual Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriation funds agencies and programs in three federal departments, as well as numerous related agencies and bureaus. Among the agencies represented is the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior. Many of its programs are among the more controversial of those funded in the bill. For FY2012, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74, Division E, H.Rept. 112-331) provided $1.48 billion for FWS, down 2% from the FY2011 level of $1.50 billion. (This measure also provided appropriations for most federal government operations for the remainder of FY2012.) For FWS, most accounts were reduced to some degree relative to the FY2011 level.

This report analyzes the FWS funding levels contained in the FY2012 appropriations bill. Emphasis is on FWS funding for programs that have generated congressional debate or particular constituent interest, now or in recent years. Several controversies arose during the appropriations cycle over funding levels or restrictions on funding: 

          The Administration proposed limitations on funds that could be used to respond to petitions to list new species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), arguing that petitions diverted the agency from listing species with higher conservation priority; others argued that without petitions FWS would list fewer species. The Administration also proposed to limit spending on listing foreign species. Both limits were accepted. 
          The House bill proposed to limit judicial review of FWS decisions concerning the delisting of gray wolves under ESA. This provision was eliminated from the final bill. 
          The Administration proposed cutbacks in funding for certain fish hatcheries involved in mitigation of the effects of federal water projects. FWS argued that the mitigation burden belonged on the shoulders of the agencies responsible for the projects. Congress did cut some of the program, but also specified a transfer of funds to FWS to support hatchery mitigation. 
          The Administration proposed elimination of annual appropriations for payments to counties for lost revenues due to the presence of non-taxable FWS lands. Congress continued the appropriation, with small reductions from previous appropriations. 
          The House bill proposed to eliminate nearly all funding for FWS land acquisition. Congress reduced but did not eliminate the program. 
All of these issues are discussed in more detail below, along with funding levels for other programs.


Date of Report: January
4, 2012
Number of Pages:
15
Order Number: R4
1928
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

National Park Service: Partnership Parks and Programs


Laura B. Comay
Editor

In recent decades, Congress has increased the number of “partnership parks” in the National Park System—park units owned and/or managed in a partnership between the National Park Service and outside entities in the federal, tribal, state, local, or private sectors. Interest in partnership parks continues to grow, especially as Congress seeks ways to leverage limited financial resources for park management.

Congress may create partnership parks to save costs for both the federal government and nonfederal stakeholders, combining investments so that neither partner carries the entire burden for park administration. Partnerships may also address concerns of Members of Congress and others about federal land acquisition, by allowing nonfederal partners to own significant portions of a park unit. In addition to such federal-nonfederal partnerships, the Park Service also has some long-standing management partnerships with other federal agencies and with Indian tribes. Partnership parks span a range of physical settings, including “lived-in” landscapes, where natural and historical attractions are mixed with homes and businesses.

Beyond the partnership parks, which are units of the National Park System, the Park Service also aids state, local, tribal, and private land managers in areas outside the park system. Here, the federal government’s investment is more limited than in the park system. The Park Service offers technical and/or financial assistance to certain legislatively authorized nonfederal areas, such as national heritage areas, and to a broader range of applicants through grant programs such as the Historic Preservation Fund or the American Battlefield Protection Program.

When evaluating partnership parks and programs, Congress faces both specific questions about the suitability of partnerships for particular areas and larger questions about the role of partnerships in the park system as a whole. For specific areas, is partnership warranted, and if so, how should financial responsibilities be shared between the Park Service and its partners? What concerns might arise around federal land ownership? What administrative benefits and challenges might be involved in managing a park through partnerships? More broadly, do partnership parks and programs further or impede the mission of the National Park Service? On the one hand, partnerships may offer the opportunity to protect areas that would otherwise be difficult to conserve. On the other hand, some suggest that partnership efforts may divert money and attention from the Park Service’s main priorities.


Date of Report: December 2
1, 2011
Number of Pages:
23
Order Number: R4212
5
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Army Corps Fiscal Challenges: Frequently Asked Questions


Nicole T. Carter
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Charles V. Stern
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy


The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for much of the federal water resources infrastructure in the United States. The Corps is faced with more demands for building and maintaining its projects than available federal funding allows. This situation is raising basic questions about how the Corps functions, including the efficacy, efficiency, and equity of Corps planning and implementation.

Corps fiscal challenges have multiple underlying causes. The Corps and its infrastructure is expected to help meet the nation’s increasing demands on water resources and the services they provide; however, what the agency can accomplish given the level of federal funding provided is declining. At the same time, Corps asset management costs are increasing as facilities age. Nonfederal projects sponsors that pay a portion of the cost for most Corps projects can become frustrated as Corps studies and projects are authorized, but remain unfunded or are slowed by lower levels of appropriated funding than anticipated. The Administration and appropriators make choices about what to fund out of an increasing pool of authorized activities. For example, the agency now faces a construction backlog of more than $62 billion, while receiving roughly $2 billion a year in construction funding. As Corps fiscal challenges become more apparent, frequently asked questions about the Corps fall into four broad categories: 

         appropriations, 
         backlog of project delivery, 
         authorizations and missions, and 
         navigation expenditures and trust funds. 
At issue for Congress is deciding how to tackle challenges facing the Corps in the context of a tight fiscal climate and other constraints (e.g., earmark moratoriums). In the past, Congress generally has increased the agency’s budget above the Administration’s request and expanded the list of projects and types of projects funded. At present, fundamental questions about what the agency does and how it operates are being asked by some observers. The perspectives on how to proceed among Members of Congress, project sponsors, fiscal conservatives, environmental interests, and other stakeholders vary widely. These perspectives often diverge based on views of the appropriate federal role in water resources management and infrastructure and the priorities for the limited federal water resources funding. Some stakeholders see the Corps backlog as a justification to direct more funds to Corps activities. Others see a need to reduce the level and types of Corps activities authorized, while still others want to make gains through efficiency improvements to reduce the expense and time needed to complete a Corps project. Some also are interested in pursuing private sector involvement in and alternative federal financing (e.g., infrastructure banks) for water resources infrastructure in order to reduce the demands on the agency. Some of these perspectives are apparent in proposed legislation in the 112th Congress, including H.R. 104, H.R. 235, H.R. 1861, H.R. 2354, S. 475, and S. 573.

This report addresses many of the basic questions regarding Corps of Engineers activities under a constrained fiscal climate. It also includes limited discussion of larger trends and proposals that may be of interest to Congress as it considers Corps activities going forward.



Date of Report: December 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: R41961
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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