U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, N.M., recently introduced the National Drought Preparedness Act of 2002 to implement a cohesive policy to lessen serious economic and environmental losses that often accompany droughts.

The bipartisan legislation would establish a National Drought Policy, a National Drought Council, a Drought Assistance Fund and develop a National Drought Monitoring Network.

The senator, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also confirmed he is seeking $20 million through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Drought Emergency Assistance Program to be available to states with declared drought emergencies. Of the 17 eligible states, emergencies have been declared or are expected to soon be declared in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Texas and Wyoming.