Interior Nomination

Mark Limbaugh to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science 

Statement of Mark A. Limbaugh

Nominee for the Position of Assistant Secretary for Water and Science

Department of the Interior

Before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

July 14, 2005


Mr. Chairman, Senator Bingaman, and Members of the Committee, I am honored to appear before you today as the President’s nominee to serve as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the Department of the Interior.  I am humbled to have been selected by President Bush and Secretary Norton and promise that, if confirmed by the Senate, I will uphold the trust placed in me through the attributes of honesty, integrity, and hard work. 

I was raised on a family farm in Fruitland, Idaho, producing apples and other permanent fruit crops, as well as forage crops and cattle, on about 800 acres.  In fact, the Bureau of Reclamation has played an important role in our family for many generations, as the promise of federally developed irrigation water brought my family from Missouri to the western United States early in the 20th century.  Growing up in a dry State in a family that depended so heavily on a constant water supply, I have come to understand the importance of certainty in water supplies, the need for modern and well-maintained infrastructure, and respect for the role of the western States in allocating and managing the water resources entrusted to them at statehood.  I have worked as a Certified Public Accountant, a farmer and rancher, a state water master, the executive director of a water user organization, president of the Family Farm Alliance and, most recently, as Deputy Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation here in Washington, D.C.  In all of my professional and personal experiences, I have steadfastly held myself to high moral and ethical standards; and if confirmed, will bring these qualities to the office of Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. 

Secretary Norton’s goals at the Department of the Interior include protecting and enhancing the health and vitality of our Nation’s many communities and their environment.  She has many accomplishments through her 4Cs philosophy of communication, consultation, and cooperation, all in the service of conservation.  I wholeheartedly subscribe to this philosophy.  I have used it to resolve water issues in the Payette River Basin in Idaho as well as the many challenging issues during my current tenure as Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. 

During the Klamath Basin crisis shortly after her arrival, Secretary Norton commissioned the development of a program designed to address water issues well in advance of crisis.  Her Water 2025 initiative, managed through the Bureau of Reclamation, has focused Federal resources on resolving water problems proactively in areas of the West where conflict can be predicted and often prevented.  I believe in this initiative; and if confirmed, I will work with the Congress and this Committee to continue its implementation and communicate its successes.

If confirmed, I will continue to work with this Committee and the Bureau of Reclamation in addressing financing for the modernization of aging water infrastructure, obtaining Congressional authorization for a rural water program, and preventing crises and conflict over water in the West through permanent authorization for Water 2025 grants and cooperative agreements.  I also will work to assess and implement organizational and managerial improvements in the design, construction, rehabilitation, operation, and maintenance of Bureau of Reclamation water supply facilities in order to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.  Our current Federal budgetary constraints will pose many challenges in the future; priorities must be set and adhered to in order to achieve success in these areas.  But western communities, farmers and ranchers, tribes and States, and the environment all deserve a focused, efficient, and fiscally transparent Bureau of Reclamation.  If confirmed, I intend to work diligently to continue our efforts to address these issues. 

If confirmed, I also will embrace the opportunity to work with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in bringing sound science and information to decision makers and the public.  The USGS is the premier natural resources science agency for this Nation, and I will work to protect the integrity of this role.  I have always been an advocate for scientifically based decision making.  Objective, credible, peer-reviewed science is key to managing our natural resources in a balanced manner. 

Our Nation has always dealt with natural and man-made hazards either by advance preparation or managing the aftermaths.  The USGS plays a critical role in measuring and assessing earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanic activity, landslides and floods, as well as communicating and mitigating the effects of such hazards through research and applied knowledge.  This function has saved lives and property in the past, and it should continue to evolve and become even more effective in the future

In closing, again, I am honored to sit before you today as President Bush’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Water and Science.  If confirmed, I will work in a bipartisan and cooperative manner with this Committee, with the full Senate and House of Representatives, and with your constituents, just as I have with many of you and your staff during the past few years.  I understand the importance of the Congress and the Constitutional roles and responsibilities of the Executive Branch.  I also understand the expectation of the American people that the branches of their Federal Government should work together in bringing useful and valuable services to the public as efficiently and effectively as possible. I am committed to collaboratively searching out fair and balanced solutions to complex natural resource issues, and I believe these solutions should respect the States, private property rights, the environment, and the tribal trust responsibilities of the Department.

It is also my commitment, if confirmed, to work with Secretary Norton as a part of her management team in overseeing the activities of the Bureau of Reclamation and the USGS, managing, conserving, and protecting the many resources entrusted to the Department of the Interior. 

Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

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