Monday, February 4, 2013

U.S. Congress in 2013: House Natural Resources Committee

Our series previewing the U.S. Congress in 2013 continues this week with an overview of the House Natural Resources Committee, and possible Committee work during the 113th Congress relating to Mississippi River Basin water issues. Lead by its Chair, Doc Hastings (R-WA), and Ranking Member Edward Markey (D-MA), the Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over several Federal natural resource issues of importance from a Mississippi River Basin perspective.  Those include fisheries and wildlife, including research, restoration, refuges and conservation; forest reserves and national parks;  the U.S. Geological Survey; interstate compacts relating to apportionment of waters for irrigation; irrigation and reclamation, including water supplies for reclamation projects and easements of public lands for irrigation projects; coastal zone management (except for issues relating to pollution of navigable waters); public lands in general; and oceanography.

Reps. Hastings and Markey return to the same Committee leadership positions that they held during the 112th Congress, when they led the predominantly-Western populated Committee in efforts to expand oil and gas development on public land and in off-coast waters such as in the Gulf of Mexico.  The two leaders in the past have been at odds, particularly on issues where Markey (one of the most liberal House Members) promoted or opposed ideas in conflict with the aims of the Committee's majority (i.e., such as championing renewable energy, or opposing nuclear and oil industry expansion).  During the last Congress, the panel consistently pushed back on the Obama Administration's use of Executive Orders to set aside land for protection, and that trend should continue into 2013.

The Committee will likely conduct hearings early this year on any Obama Administration Energy and Interior Department budget proposals under its jurisdiction, and the year may see the Committee take up reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), a law that was last updated over 23 years ago.  The last serious attempt to reauthorize the ESA occurred (and failed) in 2005.  In the last Congress, the Committee held several ESA oversight hearings, indicating its ongoing interest in the extent of the law's reach and impact.  Those hearings primarily focused on ESA litigation and settlements.  Rep. Hastings, in particular, has seen an ESA overhaul as something that Congress should focus on.  

Below, alphabetically by party, is the Committee member roster.  It highlights the Committee's 13 new members (italicized) and the eight members from Mississippi River Basin districts (underlined), and includes links to Congressional Internet home pages for the Committee's Mississippi River Basin members.

Majority Members
Minority Members
  • Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU)
  • Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29)
  • Matthew Cartwright (D-PA-17)
  • Jim Costa (D-CA-20)
  • Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR-4)
  • Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (D-AS)
  • Jose Antonio Garcia (D-FL-26)
  • Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-7)
  • Colleen Wakako Hanabusa (D-HI-1)
  • Rush D. Holt (D-NJ-12)
  • Steven A. Horsford (D-NV-4)
  • Jared William Huffman (D-CA-2)
  • Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA-47)
  • Edward J. Markey (D-MA-7) Ranking Minority Member
  • Grace Flores Napolitano (D-CA-38)
  • Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-6)
  • Pedro R. Pierluisi (D-PR)
  • Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36)
  • Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP)
  • Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1)
  • Nicola S. Tsongas (D-MA-5)
The Committee office is located at Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
Telephone: (202) 225-2761
Fax: (202) 225-5929

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