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Senate Holds Hearing on Barrasso’s Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Extension Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on S. 990 <> , the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP) Extension Act. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Barrasso and Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) on April 2, 2019.  PRRIP is a cooperative agreement among the governors of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the secretary of the Interior to achieve Endangered Species Act compliance on the Platte River.  PRRIP allows new and existing water use and development through this streamlined consultation process. The first increment was authorized by Congress in 2008 and expires on December 31, 2019. The PRRIP Extension Act extends the program by an additional 13 years.  The subcommittee hearing featured testimony from U.S. Department of the Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Kiel Weaver.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks: “Thank so much Chairman McSally and thank you Ranking Member Cortez Masto for holding this important hearing today.  “And specifically thank you Mr. Weaver for your testimony and for helping Senator Manchin in having a better understanding of the issues that we face in the West and the cooperative nature, Republican or Democrat aside, involving these problems.  “Because three governors working together to solve an important issue, from both parties, and as you see this bill that I’ve introduced is cosponsored by members from both sides of the aisle.  “Today I’d like to briefly discuss this bill S.990 — The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Extension Act. “It’s a cooperative agreement between Wyoming, and Colorado, and Nebraska and a number of stakeholders in each state. “It’s focused on Endangered Species Act compliance on the Platte River while allowing new and existing water use and development through a streamlined consultation process.  “The program provides conservation benefits to four target species through land, water, and adaptive management goals.  “The four target species include the endangered whooping crane, the interior least tern, the pallid sturgeon, and the threatened piping plover. And for people who don’t follow, those are three birds and one fish.  “While working to assist with recovery of the four target species, this bill provides waters users in Colorado, in Wyoming, and in Nebraska with regulatory certainty and Endangered Species Act compliance.  “It’s a 50/50 cost sharing program – federal funds are matched by state funds and state contributions of water and of land, as Mr. Weaver has testified. “The Governance Committee makes decisions by consensus and is one of the only recovery programs in the country that uses a shared decision-making structure that includes stakeholders.


“And as you point out, the program is working. Accomplishments in the first increment include:  ·      “Over 12,000 acres of habitat lands have been acquired by the Platte River group and are currently being managed to benefit the four target species. ·      “Approximately 90,000 Acre Feet per year of secure water supplies have been acquired and developed by and are being used to supplement flows in the Central Platte River.  ·      “Adaptive management research is improving our knowledge of how best to recover target species. ·      “Streamlined ESA compliance consultations have been used to approve nearly 200 water projects.  ·      “Progress is being made toward down listing of the least tern. “So the governors of the three states are involved. Governor Gordon of Wyoming, Governor Polis of Colorado, and Governor Ricketts of Nebraska. “They described the program in a recent joint letter, the three of them together, bipartisan, wrote a letter that said: ‘The Program is a marquee example of a proactive, collaborative approach to providing benefits for endangered species and their habitats while allowing for the beneficial use of our states’ waters.’ “This critical program is set to expire at the end of this year and the bill will extend the first increment for an additional 13 years.  “So I want to thank all of the senators from three states who have cosponsored the legislation. “And also want to thank my home State of Wyoming, and Colorado, and Nebraska, and all of the stakeholders who have made the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program a success. “I’m looking forward to working with the committee. 


Question for Assistant Secretary Weaver on PRRIP “We talked a lot today about the importance of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program. It’s critical for Wyoming, for Colorado, for Nebraska and all of the stakeholders who have worked so hard to make it a success.  “Its success is unquestioned, but the future is uncertain with the current authorization set to expire at the end of this year. “Can you take a moment to just expand on your written testimony where you describe the risks that are associated if we fail to authorize this program and what it would mean if this program were ended in terms of water users and the projects in the three states that we’re looking at?”