El Centro, California - Last week, District 5 Supervisor Ray Castillo, County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova, Jr. and Intergovernmental Relations Director Gary Wyatt met with Imperial County’s federal legislative representatives’ staff and key administrators of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Services (EAS) program in Washington, D.C. to discuss significant legislative issues of importance for Imperial County residents and address the need to identify a new air carrier for the Imperial County Airport.
Yesterday, during the Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Castillo provided a report on the series of meetings that took place.
“Despite our initial reservations to traveling to D.C., due to the record-breaking blizzard that hit the city Friday afternoon before we were scheduled to fly out that Monday, it turned out to be a very fruitful and productive trip,” stated Supervisor Castillo. “All of our meetings were informative and beneficial, particularly those regarding federal lands, our ports of entry and the EAS program. I am happy to have had the opportunity to represent the County of Imperial and meet with key staff of several Congressmembers, Senate and House committee offices, and the Department of Transportation to address the needs and concerns of our communities.”
The delegation met with six congressional and senatorial representatives’ offices, along with two committee offices and one federal agency. The main topics highlighted during discussions were the County’s Salton Sea restoration efforts, expansion of both of Calexico’s ports of entry, the Imperial Valley Desert Conservation and Recreation Act (H.R. 4060), the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act (S. 414) and the search for a new air carrier.
In addition to advocating for the County, the group received updates from legislative staff on the work the legislators have been doing on the County’s behalf. The County was informed that Congressman Juan Vargas and Congressman Raul Ruiz are working together to identify potential funding options that could support Salton Sea restoration activities, Congressman Vargas submitted a request to President Obama to provide sufficient funding for Phase Two of the Calexico West Land Port of Entry reconfiguration and expansion project in the administration’s fiscal year 2017 Budget Request to Congress, and other updates on efforts that would impact the County.
The County continued discussions with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s EAS administrators and is committed to maintain open dialogue with them in the coming months as the RFP process transpires to identify a new air carrier due to Seaport Airlines’ recent unexpected termination of service. At this time, a few carriers have expressed interest in serving the Imperial County Airport. Proposals for the replacement EAS in Imperial County are due by 11:59 p.m. today.
County officials will also continue to advocate for and work with members of the Congress regarding federal and legislative issues facing county government. For more information, please visit the Imperial County Board of Supervisors’ website.