Letter: Congressional leaders send letter to Secretary Jewell, questioning federal funding for the BDCP

open_letter_with_arrow_around_it_9212Northern California Congressional leaders have sent a letter to Secretary Jewell outlining their concerns regarding federal financing for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and requesting a meeting with federal officials.

Among the concerns stated in the letter, the legislators write: “We are concerned that the substantial increases in federal spending that would be required under BDCP’s financing plan may not be realistic, given the ongoing funding constraints at the Department of Interior.”  They ask if federal officials have discussed the feasibility of meeting the federal funding needs as identified in Chapter 8 and how that funding would be spread out over the 50 year term of the project.

They also express their concerns that if the level of funding requested for the BDCP is approved, it could result in inadequate funding for other critical water supply and fish and wildlife habitat programs.  “As such, do you anticipate a significant drop in funding needs for other activities in the coming years?  If so what specific needs do you believe will diminish?” they ask.

The legislators are requesting a meeting with Secretary Jewell to discuss the answers to these questions and to receive and update from the agencies on their current work related to the BDCP.

Read the letter here:  BDCPFederalFinancing

The legislators released the following statements in a press release from Congressman Garamendi’s office:

By raising questions on the proposed $5 billion cost to the American taxpayer of the Delta Tunnels project, this letter is part of a productive dialogue on meeting California’s water needs. I have made clear the major flaws of the current plan. I look forward to continued discussion with Secretary Jewell about approaches that would meet the needs of all state residents, especially water conservation, recycling, and storage, respect for water rights, and strengthened flood protection,” said Congressman John Garamendi (CA-3), a former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior.

At a time when budgets are tight, we need to closely examine every dollar we spend. We’ve seen reports that show the proposed BDCP is not a workable solution to California’s water challenges. It’s rushed, not based on sound science, and hurts wildlife, sportsmen, farmers, fishers and small business owners. Until we have a transparent plan that is developed with all the stakeholders at the table, it would be reckless and wasteful to spend a single cent on a project that puts thousands of jobs at risk and could devastate the Delta and north-of-Delta communities,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5).

As the BDCP moves forward, serious questions need to be answered about where the federal government would find the billions needed to pay for the BDCP plan.  Due to our nation’s fiscal and political climate, the federal budget has seen deep cuts over the past few years, and we continue to see devastating cuts with sequestration.  Critical infrastructure projects across the country are going unfunded because of the federal budget problems. Spending billions on the BDCP, which is headed in the wrong direction for California and especially those of us north of the Delta, just doesn’t make sense,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06).

We already know that Governor Brown’s proposed plan for the Delta will devastate the region and is not based on sound science.  It will cost California residents billions of dollars, and does not ensure a reliable water supply for all of California. Until we have a solution that is based on an effective cost-benefit analysis and sound science, and that will not harm our most precious water resource, the Governor should not be rushing forward with his plan.  The people of California deserve no less, and the people in the Delta region who stand to have their livelihoods decimated must be heard.  With the potential investment of federal funding, the taxpayers of this country also deserve to know how much of their money will be dedicated to this project,” said Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-9).

The Governor’s BDCP financing plan makes too many assumptions about an enormously expensive project.  It’s not reasonable for them to assume that other federal priorities will be pushed aside to finance a plan that does not create new water from local resources, does not include sufficient input from all stakeholders, and has been roundly criticized by federal and state agencies for being based on unsound science. Taxpayers deserve honest answers about where the money to finance this project will come from and what programs and regions will suffer as a result.  I look forward to having that discussion with Secretary Jewell,” said Congressman George Miller (CA-11).

I’ve consistently been concerned about the rush to implement the Bay Delta Conservation Plan before we look at all of our alternatives. Water is critical to California, and we must find a comprehensive, long-term solution that is based on sound science and doesn’t put south-of-delta interests ahead of everyone in or north-of-delta. In addition to those concerns, we must also understand how we’ll pay for any plan before committing to it. I’m very concerned about the availability of the substantial federal funds it could require to complete BDCP, and hope to discuss those costs with Secretary Jewell,” said Congressman Ami Bera (CA-7).

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