Fish Sniffer On Demand Digital Edition Issue 3626 Dec 8- 22 2017 - Page 23

VOL.36 • ISS. 26 Dec. 8 - 22, 2017 U.S. Senate Confirms New Reclamation Commissioner O n November 16, the U.S. Sen- ate confirmed Brenda Burman, who served as a Department of Interior official under President G.W. Bush and later as special projects manager for the Metropolitan Water District MWD of Southern California, as the U.S. Depart- ment of the Interior Bureau of Reclama- tion Commissioner. MWD, along with Stewart and Lynda Resnick of the Wonderful Company and other corporate agribusiness interests, is one of key proponents of the California WaterFix project, a controversial proposal to build two massive 35-mile-long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. “Finally! After more than 142 days, I’m excited to welcome Brenda Burman to lead the Bureau of Reclamation,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a statement. “Brenda is a veteran of the Bureau and her extensive experience on water projects across the country will be an incredible asset for the Department. After senseless and unprecedented hold- ups in the Senate, we can finally move forward with key water projects across the country.” Zinke recently accused Senate Dem- ocrats of holding four Trump adminis- tration Interior nominees “hostage” to a political agenda that includes opposition to his review of presidentially designated monuments: news/politics/articles/2017-11-10/zin- ke-says-democrats-holding-interior-nomi- nees-hostage Senator Richard Durbin had placed holds on Berman and three other Interior nominees, including Susan Combs, nom- inated as assistant secretary for policy, management and budget; Joseph Balash, assistant secretary for land and minerals management; Ryan Nelson, solicitor. “I am deeply honored for the opportu- nity to lead this organization,” said Brenda Burman after being confirmed. “The em- ployees of Reclamation are dedicated to working through the most difficult water issues and managing water in the West. I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke, the Administration, and our many partners, contractors and customers to solve our most pressing water issues.” Roger K. Patterson, Assistant Gener- al Manager for the Metropolitan Water District of California, Burman’s former employer, praised Trump’s choice for Reclamation Commissioner on June 27 in a statement. “As someone who has over 10 years experience as a Regional Director with Bureau of Reclamation in two separate Regions, I have seen what it takes to succeed as Commissioner,” said Patterson. “Without a doubt, Brenda has the expe- rience, skills, energy and vision to be a successful. I’m excited about the work she will do and I wish her the best.” After her confirmation, Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Executive Director Timothy Quinn gushed, “ACWA enthusiastically sup- ports the confirmation of Brenda Burman as commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.” “Brenda brings decades of water policy expertise to her new role. Having served as director of water policy for Arizona’s Salt River Project and as a special projects manager for the Metropolitan Water Dis- trict of Southern California, Brenda also has a keen understanding of the myriad of issues facing water managers in the West,” he said. For those not familiar with the agency, the Bureau of Reclamation is the larg- est wholesale provider of water in the country. It delivers 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. Reclamation is also the partner with the California Department of Water Resources in the planning, construction and opera- tion of the Delta Tunnels, a project that would cost anywhere from $18 billion to $68 billion while providing not one drop of new water. Tunnels opponents consid- er the project to be potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in U.S. history. Brenda Burman is the first-ever woman to lead the Bureau. From 2006 to 2008 under the G.W. Bush administration, she served as Reclamation’s Deputy Commis- sioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Deputy Assistant Secre- tary. Before her current stint at Interior, Burman served as the Director of Water Policy for Arizona’s Salt River Project. From 2011 to 2015, Burman worked as the special project manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, “the largest water provider in the country.” She also worked for The Nature Con- servancy as senator water policy adminis- trator and U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. Burman’s appointment comes at a criti- cal time for Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels project. On October 25, a Trump administration official issued contradic- tory statements about continued federal support for the California Water Fix. After an administration official first said the administration didn’t support the Delta Tunnels, he later that day said the Department of Interior would continue supporting the project but wouldn’t pro- vide funding for it. 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