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International Operating Engineer - Fall 2015

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  • Operating
  • Engineers
  • Iuoe
  • Engineer
  • Offshore
  • Pipeline
  • Drought
The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Politics & Legislation

Politics & Legislation Legislative Action to Battle California Drought Puts Operating Engineers on the Front Lines OVER THE PAST four years, California has experienced one of the worst droughts in state history. Reservoirs across the state are severely depleted, holding only 54% of their historical average. The Sierra Nevada snowpack contains just 5% of the normal water content, obliterating the previous record low of 25% water content. Snowpack is critical because when it melts, it refills the reservoirs during the hot summer months. According to the California Climate Tracker, 2015 saw the highest average temperatures in 120 years of recordkeeping. These warmer temperatures have only intensified the effects of the drought and led to the most destructive wildfires in California history, burning over 800,000 acres this calendar year. Researchers have estimated that the total drought related economic loss to state agriculture is about .7 billion. Governor Jerry Brown’s administration has worked closely with the state legislature to implement new regulations and pass legislation to deal with the drought. Several of these proposals invest heavily in water related infrastructure projects and will require thousands of skilled Operating Engineers to complete the work. • The state has committed more than 0 million in drought relief since last year to assist droughtaffected communities and provide funding to better utilize local water supplies. • Senate Bills 103 and 104 provide 7.4 million to support drought relief. The legislation includes 9 million from the accelerated expenditure of voter-approved bonds, Proposition 84 and Proposition 1E, in the form of infrastructure grants for local and regional projects that are already planned or partially completed. • Assembly Bills 91 and 92 fasttracked more than billion in funding for drought relief and critical water infrastructure projects (e.g. water recycling and infrastructure and flood protection). • Proposition 1, California’s .5 billion water bond: includes funding for surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protections and restoration, and drinking water protection. • The Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which the Governor introduced and is currently pending, is a five-year project that would fix California’s primary water delivery system at an estimated cost of .9 Emergency drought barrier construction nears completion on West False River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. [photo] CA Department of Water Resources EnginEErs Action rEsponsE nEtwork Because elections matter Make your voice heard • Register for EARN today www.iuoe.org billion. This project alone would create over 40,000 construction jobs. Governor Brown was also successful in securing nearly million in federal drought relief for California’s Central Valley Project through the U.S. Department of the Interior. To combat the drought at the federal level, California Senators Diane Feinstein (D) and Barbara Boxer (D), introduced The California Emergency Drought Relief Act (S.1894). Some of the key elements of this legislation are: • The RIFIA loan program: Authorizes 0 million for the Reclamation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (RIFIA). This loan-guarantee program will allow water districts and municipalities to leverage loans and loan guarantees for water projects, reducing repayment loan costs by as much as 25 percent. This is modeled after TIFIA, a successful loan-guarantee program for transportation projects. • WaterSMART grant improvements: Authorizes 0 million in increased funds for the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program to help finance water reclamation and reuse projects as well as water efficiency initiatives. • Title XVI water recycling program reforms: Authorizes 0 million in increased funds for the Bureau of Reclamation’s water recycling and reuse program (Title XVI) to help fund projects to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and naturally impaired ground and surface water. This legislation is currently being considered at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski. In the U.S. House of Representatives, California Congressman David Valadao (R-21) introduced the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015 (H.R. 2898). This legislation passed the House on July 16th by a vote of 245 – 176, and is also currently being considered in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Congressman Jared Huffman, representing California’s second congressional district, has also introduced legislation - H.R. 2983, Drought Recovery and Resilience Act of 2015. This bill has not yet been voted out of committee. These various state and federal initiatives will create tens of thousands of construction jobs and the Operating Engineers will be on the front lines building these water infrastructure projects and playing a vital role in helping Californians survive this and future droughts. 10 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER FALL 2015 11

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