Hoeven Working to Meet Needs of Williston Area
Senator Speaks on the Need to Support Agriculture, Local Industry, Meet the Challenges of Economic Growth
WILLISTON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today spoke at the Williston Rotary Club, providing updates to community and business leaders on a range of topics, including the farm bill negotiations, the United States Postal Service (USPS) and continued growth in the Bakken region. Hoeven emphasized the importance of making the right kind of policy decisions and investments needed to support the priorities of the area.
“Our communities in western North Dakota have experienced tremendous growth and prosperity in recent years,” Hoeven said. “We need to work to continue supporting that growth, both in new and long-standing industries in this area, but we have to do it the right way. That means providing certainty for our farmers and ranchers through a long-term farm bill, as well as supporting much-needed housing development and public utilities and services.”
Senator Hoeven discussed his work as a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee, emphasizing the importance of having strong farm policy, which has allowed our country to have the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. The committee reconvenes in early December, and the senator is pushing to reach an agreement before the House of Representatives adjourns for the year on December 13th. The current Senate farm bill saves $24 billion to help reduce the deficit and debt, and contains provisions for enhanced crop insurance, revenue loss protection and the no net-cost sugar program, among other things.
Hoeven has worked with various USPS officials to address the needs of the Bakken region in adapting to recent, tremendous economic and population growth. Later today, the senator will host Drew Aliperto, United States Postal Service (USPS) vice president of area operations for the western area, in Williston to see firsthand the impact of energy development and economic growth on the postal service in the area. Following that, Hoeven and Aliperto will hold a roundtable with local leaders to discuss these impacts and USPS’ efforts to retain and expand postal services throughout the region. Hoeven also hosted Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in Williston in August, to improve delivery and customer service issues throughout North Dakota.
Growth in the Bakken
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven is working to include funding for housing and infrastructure programs that meet North Dakota priorities. The senator was also a member of the joint Senate-House conference committee that crafted the last federal transportation bill. The legislation funding transportation projects through 2014, providing the state with an additional year of funding and greater certainty to plan long-term projects. Hoeven cited North Dakota as an example to the nation, stressing the need to make investments and policy reforms that support growth to get Americans working again, while also helping communities adapt to that growth.
The senator discussed his work to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from charging residents and businesses for water drawn from the Missouri River reservoirs. In May, the Senate passed the States’ Water Rights Act, legislation Hoeven introduced and attached to the Water Resources Development Act to bar the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from charging a storage fee for the water.
The legislation was prompted by a 2010 Corps decision to restrict access to Missouri River reservoirs and impose an unprecedented storage fee for drawing water from them. In the more than 60 years since the construction of the dams, the Corps has never charged a fee, nor should it.
Some of the basin states, including North Dakota, relinquished prime lands to create dams and reservoirs from Fort Peck in Montana, through Garrison Dam in North Dakota, to Gavins Point in South Dakota to prevent flooding. The states never ceded the right to use Missouri River water for municipal and industrial water supplies and never imagined the Corps would charge residents and businesses a fee for their own water.
The States’ Water Rights Act that Hoeven introduced and recruited other basin senators to support, affirms that charging fees would violate a state’s right to the waters that naturally flow through its boundaries, rights which are recognized by the federal government.
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