July 29, 2022

House Passes Rep. Mike Levin’s Desalination and Energy Legislation as Part of Major Drought and Wildfire Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act, which includes several pieces of legislation Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) is leading to support desalination projects and strengthen the electric grid threatened by wildfires.

The bill includes his Desalination Development Act, which authorizes $260 million over the next five years for desalination projects and creates new environmental safeguards for the funded projects. This funding would build on the record $250 million for desalination projects Rep. Levin helped secured in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It also includes his bipartisan Desalination Research Advancement Act, which would reauthorize the Bureau of Reclamation’s desalination research grant authorities and increase its funding authorization from $5 million per year to $20 million per year through FY 2027. Both bills support projects like the South Coast Water District’s Doheny Ocean Desalination Project and the City of Oceanside’s Mission Basin Groundwater Purification Facility Well Expansion and Brine Minimization Project.

Additionally, the bill includes the Grid Resilience Act, legislation Rep. Levin co-led with Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Sean Casten (D-IL) requiring the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to conduct a joint study on a reliability standard for thermoelectric power plants during droughts. It also includes their Reinforcing the Grid Against Extreme Weather Act to require FERC to establish minimum transfer capability requirements between transmission planning regions. This would provide significant reliability benefits as planning regions would be able to share power in the case of a power emergency.

“Worsening droughts and increasingly severe wildfires are the new normal for Californians and many Americans, and it’s imperative that we invest in action now to make communities more resilient to these events,” said Rep. Levin. “I’m proud that the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act includes two of my bills to invest in desalination projects that increase the supply of drinking water, as well as my legislation to ensure federal agencies take steps to strengthen the reliability of our electric grid and reduce power shutoffs. As we reach the height of wildfire season in California, it’s critical that the Senate act on this legislation and send it to the President to protect Americans from the devastating effects of the climate crisis.”

In addition to Rep. Levin’s legislation, the bill also includes higher pay and better benefits for federal firefighters to address recruiting and retention problems, creates a 10-Year National Wildfire Plan, authorizes $100 million annually for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to invest in restoration and resilience projects, authorizes $700 million for large-scale water recycling and reuse projects, invests in efforts to protect Colorado River water supplies, establishes a DOE program to improve the energy resilience and energy efficiency of critical facilities, develops a grant program for communities impacted by hazardous air pollutants to participate in the regulatory decisions impacting the health and safety of their communities, and much more.