EL CENTRO — Antonio Ortega, IID government affairs and communications officer, gave an update at the regular August 6 meeting on legislative bills, federal and state, that his office was watching. 

Ortega said AB 854, which attempts to usurp IID’s control and authority of its water and electrical enterprises by adding six Riverside members to the now five-man IID board, is out of the Assembly Local Government committee but has been held as a two-year bill by the Assembly Appropriations committee last May where it now sits, inactive.

Representative Juan Vargas has authored H.R. 358, the “California New River Restoration Act of 2019” which Ortega said requires the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a restoration program for the New River. If passed, the EPA must implement projects, plans, and initiatives for the New River supported by the California-Mexico Border Relations Council and provide grants and technical assistance for coordinating restoration and protection activities. As of now, the bill is in the House Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

Another bill under the watchful eye of the district is Representative Russ Fulcher’s amendment to the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 which would promote timely explorations for geothermal resources under geothermal leases. This bill would create a limited categorical exclusion for geothermal exploration activities on federal land and require the secretary of the interior to identify priority areas for geothermal development on federal lands within five years of the passage of the bill. 

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