The Duncan Banner

May 4, 2014

Inhofe discusses water concerns with Stephens County rural districts

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — U.S. Sen. James Inhofe met with representatives of the Stephens County rural water districts Friday to discuss what options exist if current drought conditions persist.

Among the options proposed by Inhofe included a recycling of unused irrigation water in Waurika Lake. Inhofe said by reallocating the irrigation water, it could make more water available for municipal use.

The irrigation water usage is covered in a Water Resources Development Act bill, Inhofe said. The WRDA bill also highlights use of State Revolving Funds, which could provide states with significant grant money to construct water infrastructure projects.

“I think it’s a bill we should be able to pass this week,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe said $2.3 billion was appropriated for the State Revolving Funds program. He said President Obama cut the program by $500 million for the 2015 fiscal year request.

As a result of the funding cut, Inhofe said he is working to restore funding and has sent a letter requesting more funding for the 2015 fiscal year.

“We’re working to resolve their water problems,” Inhofe said. “I know it’s a serious thing. It used to be just an issue in western Oklahoma. Not it’s an issue everywhere.”

Inhofe flew his own plane  into the Duncan Municipal Airport.

 He likes to various cities in Oklahoma nearly every Friday.

 Because he has the ability to make it to multiple locations most Fridays, he makes an effort to do so.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Inhofe said. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it.”

Even though his visit to Duncan was aimed at speaking to rural water districts, Inhofe had other concerns to share.

Among them was EPA over-regulation.

Inhofe said the EPA might have put politics ahead of policy when it delayed the release of a climate rule, which means Republicans repeal the rule until January 2015.

“We caught the director of the EPA in a lie,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told senators the rule would be submitted to the Federal Register as soon as possible, but he said it was nearly two months after the rule was released to the public that it was submitted to the Federal Register. And it was more than a month later that the Federal Register published the rule.

Inhofe said things are going well at the state level, with  production of oil and gas high, but he said the low unemployment rate  makes it difficult for oil and gas companies to find workers.