- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Watery rights

Sen. Robert F. Bennett of Utah reminded his colleagues just how the power flows when it comes to control of water, particularly in the West.

“Where I come from, there is an old adage: ‘It is better to be head of the ditch than head of the church,’ ” Mr. Bennett told his colleague Sen. Mark Udall during a hearing about the nation’s water resources.

“I’m going to borrow that to add to the repertoire that we have about water fights in the West,” Mr. Udall said.

Mr. Udall, Colorado Democrat, had been recounting the struggles experienced by Shell Exploration and Production Co. in obtaining a water right on Colorado’s Yampa River to be used in oil shale development.

The request is opposed by 25 federal, state and local agencies plus business and environmental groups, according to the Denver Post.

Fights for water among state governments have escalated in the past few years. The Carolinas are locked in a legal battle over access to the Catawba River, and Virginia won a battle with Maryland to tap the Potomac River in 2003.

Green film

The Environmental Film Festival — happening this week around Washington — has some quirky selections for those with a little spare time. The following items come from the festival’s Web site, www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org.

“Belly Boat Hustle” — “A hilarious short about five Calgary men with type-A personalities, off on a weekend of fly-fishing with beer, cell phones and all-terrain vehicles.”

“Clean?Coal” — “In this animated short, a lump of ‘clean’ coal goes to Capitol Hill to seek millions of dollars in funding.”

Art-house hero Werner Herzog also gets a lot of play at the festival, which runs through Sunday.

Energizing talk

There will be lots of movement again on the Hill this week as lawmakers continue working on a new energy bill and offshore oil leases.

Members of the House Committee on Natural Resources hear about offshore oil leases on Tuesday morning, the same day the Senate’s energy committee takes up the issue.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday will examine ways to protect jobs as part of any greenhouse-gas reduction plan. Across the Capitol grounds the same day, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee takes up the nuclear power development.

There’s still some question in the Senate as to how an energy bill will move and whether it will be paired with a carbon-reduction plan, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said he would like to see. House leaders have said they would like to pair the two proposals and pass them as one large climate and energy package.

The HR file

The Obama administration hired a handful top staffers last week as it continued filling the ranks of climate and energy lieutenants.

Van Jones joined the Council on Environmental Quality as a special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. Mr. Jones supported the Obama campaign and founded the green-jobs group Green for All. The Obama White House has made job creation through clean energy sources a key pitch in its stimulus plan.

Will Shafroth joins the Interior Department as deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. Mr. Shafroth leaves after working with the Colorado Conservation Trust and Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund.

J. Charles Fox returns to the Environmental Protection Agency as senior adviser on the Chesapeake Bay and the Anacostia River. Mr. Fox previously worked as Maryland’s secretary of natural resources and as an associate administrator at the EPA with then-administrator Carol M. Browner.

Tom LoBianco can be reached at [email protected]

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