U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today led a Colorado River trip focused on solutions to building climate resilience in the West. From Hittle Bottom to the Rocky Rapid campground outside of Moab, Utah, the senators floated the river with Colorado and Utah leaders from water, agriculture, business, and environmental communities and local government and discussed a bipartisan approach to address drought, wildfire, mudslides in the West. Photos and video of the trip are available for download here.
“I appreciate Senator Bennet for the kind invitation to join him for today’s float trip down the Colorado River. It was an honor to have Utah’s Lieutenant Governor, local officials, and community leaders from our state join us, as well. What we are witnessing in Utah and throughout the West is an historic drought. The changing climate means that we are going to have to rethink how we solve the West’s water challenges, and today’s trip was an opportunity to begin to build consensus toward addressing them,” said Senator Romney. “I look forward to our continued work in the Senate to find solutions to climate-related challenges so that we can do our part to leave the world in a better place for our children and grandchildren.”
“I’m grateful to Senator Romney for welcoming me to his beautiful state. Days like today are why I feel optimistic that we will find a way forward on our climate challenges, and why I feel strongly that the West has to lead in this endeavor,” said Senator Bennet. “In the West, we come together to take on shared challenges, and we need that same spirit in Washington to create meaningful and durable solutions to climate change.”
“Utah is known for its national parks and beautiful landscapes. Right now, we’re also the fastest growing state in our nation,” said Utah Lt. Governer Deidre Henderson. “As our kids and grandkids grow up, it’s important that we make sure our state remains a place where they want to raise their families—and the historic drought facing the West complicates that. We have an opportunity here to work with our neighbors to the east on solutions that help ease the burdens our communities face because of the drought.”
“Water issues are not new to the West. This drought came on quickly, and we’ve seen our communities come together and act to conserve our outdoor water resources,” said Gene Shawcroft, Commissioner, Utah Upper Colorado River Commission. “Today’s trip provided us the opportunity to meet with our counterparts from Colorado to discuss ways in which we can work together to find solutions that better manage our water and mitigate drought conditions. Understanding other people’s perspectives is critically important to tackle these big issues.”
Romney and Bennet have worked together for years to find meaningful solutions to issues affecting the West. In 2019, the senators asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), specifically asking GAO to recommend improvements and consider the challenges the senators have heard about in using the program for wildfire recovery. In December 2019, the GAO accepted their request and is currently reviewing the program.
Romney and Bennet later introduced the MATCH Act in January 2020 and again in 2021 to improve the EWP program, which will expedite wildfire recovery, save taxpayers money, and prevent further disasters.