Congressman Scott Tipton’s (CO-03) bill to protect privately-held water rights and uphold state water law passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee. Tipton introduced the bill, the Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 2939) on June 20, 2017. The bill cleared the committee with a bipartisan vote of 24-14.
Speaking before the Committee, Tipton said that federal attempts to manipulate federal permit, lease, and land management processes to circumvent long-standing state water law and hijack privately held water rights have sounded the alarm for non-federal water users.
Tipton said in part:
“The federal government’s overreach and infringement on private property rights that led to the introduction of the original version of this bill in the 113th Congress involved a U.S. Forest Service attempt to require a transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition on National Forest System lands. There was no compensation for the transfer of these privately-held rights, despite the fact that many stakeholders had invested their own capital, many times to the tune of millions of dollars. This Forest Service permit condition had already hurt a number of stakeholders in my home state of Colorado, including Powerdhorn Ski Area in Grand Junction and Breckenridge Ski Resort.”
Tipton also outlined instances in which the Bureau of Land Management has conditioned grazing permits on the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government
Watch Tipton’s full statement here.
The Water Rights Protection Act prohibits the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior from requiring the transfer of water rights as a condition of any land-use permit. The bill also requires that future directives from the Departments be consistent with state water law.
The Water Rights Protection Act passed the House in both the 113th and 114th Congresses with bipartisan support. Visit Tipton’s website for a list of organizations that have shared their support for the bill in the 115th Congress.Read More
The beneficial use of water in Colorado has a long history. It can be traced back to the mid 1800’s, when people started settling the land that would become Colorado and the Western United States. As the need for water grew, so did disputes over water rights. Colorado began applying the same “first in time, first in right” approach that had governed land rights to water rights as well. The “first in time, first in right” principle is a critical element of the priority-based, beneficial use water rights system we have in Colorado today.
Despite the fact that the federal government has a long history of deferring to state water law, in recent years we have seen repeated attempts by federal agencies to circumvent state water law by requiring someone who wishes to renew their permit to use U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to hand over their water rights without any compensation as a condition of their permit.
Ski areas often hold special use permits from the USFS to operate on federal land. The ski area operates on and maintains the land, and the federal government generates revenue. It’s a win-win. The arrangement is similar for farmers and ranchers. A rancher may have a permit that allows their livestock to graze on BLM land. The arrangement helps the rancher stay in business, the grazing keeps public lands healthy, and the federal government receives revenue from the permit.
Many times the ski area, farmer, or rancher will own rights to the water on or surrounding the federal land, and will have invested their own capital to make improvements to the water infrastructure by digging wells or diverting streams to make snow or fill stock ponds.
In recent years, we have seen federal agencies ignore the concept of private property rights and the tradition of deferring to state water law in an attempt to federalize water resources and pave the way for unilateral mandates. Western water users agree that we can’t let this happen, so I have introduced the Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 2939) to prevent federal water grabs.
The Water Rights Protect Act would prohibit the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior from requiring the transfer of water rights as a condition of any land-use permit. The bill would also ensure that any future water directives issued by federal agencies are consistent with state water law.
How we manage and protect the Western water supply has implications on everything from growing crops to managing wildlife habitats. The Water Rights Protection Act would preserve the water rights of all water users and provide certainty that the federal government cannot take their rights in the future.
In addition to protecting water rights, it is also important that the federal government support state efforts to store water for future use. Right now, the regulations that are required to construct new surface water storage involve multiple agencies at multiple levels of government. The permitting process wastes time, money, and ultimately hurts the communities that would benefit from the storage projects. For example, the High Savery Dam in Wyoming took 14 years to permit, but only two years to build. How ridiculous is that?
The House recently passed a bill, the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act, to streamline water storage projects. The bill would make the Bureau of Reclamation a “one-stop-shop,” so that when a water storage facility is proposed, the developer can go through the entire permitting process with one federal entity. This change to the process would be extremely valuable to the communities in the arid West.
If you have ever visited the Colorado State Capitol building, you’ll know that an etching in the rotunda says, “Here is the land where life is written in water.” As we’ve seen the federal government attempt to assert control over western water in recent years, this phrase remains extremely relevant, and I remain committed to ensuring federal water policies support the way of life we all cherish in the West.Read More
Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, appeared before the House Natural Resources Committee to present the Administration’s proposed 2018 budget for the Department. During the hearing, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) questioned Secretary Zinke about the Department’s review of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit project, and his legislation to protect privately-held water rights in the West.
In May, Tipton and Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner sent Zinke a letter urging the Department to preserve the national monument designation of Canyons of the Ancients. Zinke recently assured Gardner that Canyons of the Ancients was not on the Department’s priority review list. Tipton reiterated his support for Canyons during the hearing and received a commitment from Zinke on the monument.
“I would like to be able to reiterate [that] Canyons of the Ancients is important in my district and to me personally of course, and should there be any changes moving forward, we’d really appreciate making sure we’re in concert with your office in having good communication,” Tipton said.
Zinke replied, “My intent was not to rip-off band aids and create wounds where there [are] none. [The intent was] to make sure that monuments had public input, that there is overwhelming support, and to make sure that the monument designations in the prescribed period followed the law.”
Watch the complete exchange here.
Tipton also asked Zinke for his commitment to completing the Arkansas Valley Conduit project.
Tipton appeared before the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee in March to stress the importance of the project, which is the last component of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project that was authorized by Congress in 1962.
Zinke indicated that the Department’s 2018 budget includes $3 million for the project, and he committed to working with Tipton’s office to ensure it is completed in a timely manner.
Watch their exchange here.
Tipton’s Water Rights Protection Act was also a focus during the hearing. Tipton reintroduced the bill in the 115th Congress to uphold federal deference to state water law and permanently prevent federal takings of privately held water rights.
In recent years, Tipton’s office has been contacted by farmers, ranchers, ski areas, and others, after the federal government requested they hand over their water rights in exchanged for renewing land-use permits. The Water Rights Protection Act would prohibit the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior from requiring the transfer of water rights as a condition of any land-use permit. The bill passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in the 113th and 114th Congresses.
Following the hearing, Tipton said, “The federal government’s repeated attempts to circumvent long-established state water law by requiring the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government, as a permit condition, constitute a gross federal overreach and violation of private property rights. My bill provides permanent protections for ski areas, farmers, ranchers, and others in the West.”Read More
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Electricity Reliability Protection Act (H.R. 1873), which will help prevent catastrophic wildfires on federal land by streamlining the process for clearing overgrown vegetation around power lines. Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted in support of the bill.
“Utility company employees are often the first to identify overgrown vegetation near power lines, and they notify the appropriate federal agencies of the problem. Unfortunately, many of these warnings get ignored or placed on the backburner, and the utility companies are left to cover the cost of firefighting and other recovery efforts.” said Tipton. “We must streamline the process for clearing overgrowth in order to prevent catastrophic wildfires and protect our communities.”
Since 2013, the U.S. Forest Service has reported 113 wildfires that resulted from trees making contact with power lines. Federal agencies currently take upwards of four months before granting utility companies permission to remove overgrown vegetation. H.R. 1873 would require federal agencies to respond to local utility companies within 90 days of the date the company submits a plan to eliminate overgrown vegetation around power lines.
Tipton also supported an amendment to H.R. 1873 that would ensure staff at the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are educated on the benefits of using unmanned technologies to monitor overgrowth and identify potentially hazardous conditions.
“Unmanned technologies can play an important role in forest management, especially in areas where the terrain and topography create significant travel hazards. It will be extremely valuable for federal agencies to gain a better understanding of how they can use unmanned technologies to carry out land management responsibilities,” Tipton added.
H.R. 1873 passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 300-118. The bill will now be considered by the Senate.Read More
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) reintroduced the Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 2939), a bill that would uphold federal deference to state water law and prevent federal takings of privately held water rights.
“In recent years, the federal government has repeatedly attempted to circumvent long-established state water law by requiring the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition for use of land owned by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management,” said Tipton. “These efforts constitute a gross federal overreach and violation of private property rights. My bill provides permanent protections for ski areas, farmers, ranchers, and others in the West.”
In 2014, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposed the Groundwater Resource Management Directive, which gave the federal government jurisdiction over groundwater in a manner that was inconsistent with long-established state water law. The USFS withdrew the measure but has indicated a desire to issue a revised directive in the future. The Water Rights Protection Act would prohibit the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior from requiring the transfer of water rights as a condition of any land-use permit. The bill would also ensure that any future groundwater directives from the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are consistent with state water law.
Tipton’s bill has drawn praise from county commissioners and water conservancy districts across the Third Congressional District of Colorado.
In a letter of support, the Dolores Water Conservancy District wrote, “The Water Rights Protection Act decisively addresses the elimination of risks and uncertainties related to federal taking of water. The clarification and direction provided by the proposed act will make management decisions, and work with our partners to make important water supply decisions, much more certain and secure.”
The Garfield County Board of Commissioners wrote, “Garfield County, like many governments in Colorado and the west remains fiercely concerned over the continued challenge the federal government poses to the supremacy of Colorado water law. To that end, Garfield County places its full support behind Representative Tipton’s efforts.”
The Water Rights Protection Act passed out of the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in both the 113th and 114th Congresses.
“Water is the most precious resource we have in the arid West, and how we manage and protect our water supply has implications on everything from growing crops to managing wildlife habitats. The Water Rights Protection Act is a sensible approach that would preserve the water rights of all water users and provide certainty that the federal government cannot take their rights in the future,” Tipton added.
For too long, the U.S. has operated with no comprehensive plan for meeting the inevitable increased demand for energy created by both traditional and renewable resources. As the energy economy continues to evolve, we must develop a true all-of-the-above energy strategy that will ensure both U.S. energy security and affordable power for American families well into the future.
We often talk about the need for an all-of-the-above approach, but it order to make it a reality, we need a plan. This is where my bill, the Planning for American Energy Act, comes in.
I recently reintroduced the Planning for American Energy Act (H.R. 2907) in the 115th Congress. The bill is pretty straightforward – it would require the U.S. to develop an all-of-the-above approach to meet the projected energy demand of the United States over the next 30 years.
Specifically, it would require the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to project the nation’s energy needs and the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to develop four-year energy production plans to meet those needs. The plans would need to include all sources – wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and minerals – and they would preserve current environmental reviews and safeguards.
According to the EIA, in 2015, 60 percent of the electricity generated in Colorado came from coal, 22 percent came from natural gas, and 18 percent was generated by renewable energy resources. Across the U.S. in 2016, natural gas accounted for 34 percent of electricity generation, coal accounted for 31 percent, nuclear power for 20 percent, and renewables for 15 percent.
Technology in both traditional and renewable energy development continues to advance, and I am confident that the innovation we’re seeing will help support an all-of-the-above strategy that will create thousands of new jobs, keep energy costs low for families and businesses, and strengthen our national security.
We have an incredible opportunity before us, and it is time to put a plan in place.Read More
The House Natural Resources Committee considered a draft of the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, a bill that will help improve proactive management of federal forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires. During the hearing, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) focused on the efficiencies the draft legislation will bring to management processes within the U.S. Forest Service.
Tipton spoke with witness Jim Nieman, President of the Federal Forest Resource Coalition, about the impact that streamlining assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) would have on forest management. Nieman indicated that the Forest Service currently takes longer and uses more resources than other agencies to approve management projects, but the Resilient Federal Forest Act will help bring more efficiency to Forest Service’s NEPA process.
Tipton also spoke about a project near Pagosa Springs, CO, in which the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership was able to utilize funds from the Department of Agriculture Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership to thin 500 acres of private, federal, and city-owned forests. The project used the thinned timber to support a local biomass facility.
“The Forest Service was pointing out trees that were growing that shouldn’t be at that elevation – the overgrowth that was taking place. That healthy forest management attitude, to be able to create that win-win, I think is essential,” Tipton said.
Tipton’s remarks can be viewed here.
Language from Tipton’s Healthy Forest Management Act, a bill to increase collaboration between federal, state, and local governments on proactive forest management, passed the House as part of the Resilient Federal Forests Act in the 114th Congress. The language is expected to be included in the version of the bill will be introduced in the 115th Congress.Read More
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) re-introduced the Planning for American Energy Act (H.R. 2907), a bill that would bring the U.S. closer to creating an all-of-the-above American energy plan to meet the nation’s growing energy needs.
The bill would require the Energy Information Administration to project U.S. energy needs over the next 30 years and the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to develop four-year energy production plans that include wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and minerals. The Planning for American Energy Act would preserve current environmental reviews and safeguards to support responsible development of all energy sources.
“Putting a true all-of-the-above domestic energy plan into place would unleash the potential for thousands of new jobs and ensure the U.S. has energy security well into the future,” said Tipton. “It’s great to talk about the need for an all-of-the-above approach, but in order to make it a reality, we need a plan.”
The Planning for American Energy Act passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support twice in the 113th Congress, as part of the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act (H.R. 4899) and the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More Jobs Act (H.R. 2).
“Creating a sustainable energy future in this country is something that Congress must prioritize. It will put Americans back to work, keep energy costs low for families and businesses, and strengthen our national security. We have an incredible opportunity before us, and it is time to put a plan in place,” Tipton added.
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) supported the VETERAN Act (H.R. 2372) and the Broader Options for Americans Act (H.R. 2579), bills that would make health insurance accessible for more Coloradans.
The VETERAN Act would allow veterans who choose to receive health care services outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system to use premium tax credits provided by the federal government to purchase private insurance. Veterans who choose to use the VA system for health care services will see no change in their benefits.
“It’s critically important that the brave men and women who have served our country have access to high quality health care and receive all of the benefits they have earned. The VA system provides many valuable services to our veterans, but veterans should have the ability to seek health care outside of the system if needed,” Tipton said.
The Broader Options Act ensures that Americans can use tax credits under the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to purchase insurance through COBRA, a program that allows individuals who may have recently lost employer-sponsored health insurance to extend their health benefits for a limited period of time.
The VETERAN Act and Broader Options Act are part of phase three of the House’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Phases one and two of the effort are made up of the reconciliation process and administrative action. The House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through the reconciliation process on May 4, 2017. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price continues to take action to provide Americans with relief from onerous ACA regulations.
“These two bills are part of our efforts to repeal and replace the ACA with a health care system that works for all Americans,” Tipton added. “I remain committed to working towards a system that will ensure every Coloradan, and all Americans, have access to affordable, patient-centered health care services.”
The shooting at a Congressional Baseball Game practice Wednesday that left five people, including a congressman, wounded and the assailant dead brought swift and strong reaction in the nation’s Capitol.
Majority House Whip Rep. Scott Scalise, R-Louisiana, was among those hit in a hail of gunfire during the baseball practice for Thursday’s game. His staff released a statement saying he had undergone one surgery; a spokesperson for MedStar Washington Hospital Center told CNN that the congressman was in critical condition.
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown told reporters five people were transported from the shooting scene, including two U.S. Capitol Police officers.
The assailant has been identified by law enforcement officials as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. President Donald Trump said during a news conference that Hodgkinson died from his injuries.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, said in a statement Hodgkinson had volunteered on his presidential campaign.
“I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be,” Sanders said in a statement. “Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, was at the practice and told CNN the officers saved their lives.
“Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police,” Paul said. “He was just killing everyone. He would’ve. It would have been a massacre.”
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, issued a news release stating his thoughts and prayers are with those who are injured and thanked those who risked their lives.
“This morning’s shooting is a reminder that we must never take for granted the heroism of the Capitol Police, who risk their lives every day to protect our nation’s Capitol,” Bennet said.
Congressmen quickly sent out tweets and press releases for their condolences to the victims.
The spokeswoman for Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, Liz Payne, said the Congressman is praying for Scalise, his staff, the Capitol Police and everyone who was involved in the tragedy.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, said the nation needs to stand as one, and tweeted that he was also praying for Scalise. He added he was grateful for the officers.
“The actions Capitol Police took today to prevent further injury is remarkable,” Gardner tweeted. “They are all heroes.”
Trump said he had spoken with Scalise’s wife, Jennifer Scalise, and pledged his full and absolute support to the family.
The House canceled many activities on Wednesday.Read More
218 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Scott Tipton was raised in Cortez, Colorado. He graduated from Ft. Lewis College in Durango, where he studied Political Science and became the first person in his family to earn a college degree. After college, he returned home to Cortez and co-founded Mesa Verde Indian Pottery with his brother Joe. It was through his business that Scott met his wife, Jean, who is a former school teacher. The Tipton’s have two daughters, Liesl and Elizabeth, and two sons-in-law, Chris and Jace.
After a lifetime running his small business, Scott was elected as a Republican to the Colorado House of Representatives for the 58th District in November of 2008. During his time at the state House, he worked to ensure quality water for the people of Colorado and to improve the air quality of Southwest Colorado. He also sponsored legislation to protect children from the worst criminal offenders by mandating harsher penalties for child sex-offenders and allowing law enforcement to collect DNA evidence from suspects through Jessica’s Law and Katie’s Law.
Scott was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and again in 2012 for a second term.
In the 112th Congress, Scott pushed hard to advance a federal version of Katie’s Law to encourage additional states to implement minimum DNA collection standards and enhanced collection processes for felons in order to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to prevent violent crimes, and protect women and children. That effort became a reality when the President signed Katie’s Law on January 3, 2013.
Using his positions on the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Small Business Committees, Scott has is fighting for the issues that most directly impact Coloradans, many of which involve our state’s extensive open spaces and natural resources. In his first term, Scott introduced legislation to encourage healthy forest management and prevent wildfire, as well as passed a bill in the House with bipartisan support to advance the development of clean, renewable hydropower. He is also leading the charge in Congress to stop a federal grab of privately-held water rights, standing up for farmers and ranchers, the ski industry, and all who rely on their water rights to survive.
Scott is champion of advancing an all-of-the-above energy solution that balances common sense conservation with responsible development. He passed the Planning for American Energy Act through the House (as a title under the American Domestic Energy and Jobs Act) to put requirements into place to develop wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and minerals, based on the needs of the American people.
Scott has used his experience as a small businessman to inform his work as a Subcommittee Chairman on the Small Business Committee. Here he has worked to protect farmers and ranchers from regulatory overreach, as well as push for expanded trade opportunities for Colorado products. Scott is a co-founder of the Congressional Small Business Caucus, a bipartisan caucus committed to open dialogue on the issues that most impact small businesses. Members of the Congressional Small Business Caucus are dedicated to advancing efforts to foster the economic certainty needed for small businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed and create jobs.
In the 113th Congress, Scott continues to represent the many interests of one of the most diverse and geographically vast districts in the nation. He will fight to bring Colorado common sense to Washington—focusing on reforming regulation, protecting Colorado’s natural environment, encouraging responsible all-of-the-above energy development, reducing government spending, and removing hurdles so that small businesses can do what they do best—create jobs.
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The announcement out of @EPA on WOTUS is welcome news. WOTUS would have usurped long-held state water law and threatened water rights.
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Today's announcement on the WOTUS rule is welcome news. State law and priority-based systems have ensured clean, safe, and reliable water supplies
Earlier today, the Water Rights Protection Act passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee. I originally introduced this bill in the
The Fourth of July is next week, and I urge you to use caution if you plan on going camping or spending time outdoors. This interactive map courtesy
My bill to protect the water rights of all Western water users just passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources!
The Department of the Interior announced FY17 PILT awards yesterday. Colorado will receive approximately $36.6 million. Find the breakdown by