Yesterday, Congressman David Valadao, along with fellow Republicans and Democrat Jim Costa, introduced the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015. (Click here for press release.)
Here are reactions from legislators and organizations:
Northern delegation statement on House GOP water bill:
Northern California Representatives Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Doris Matsui (CA-06), and Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) released the following statement in response to the House GOP water bill:
“When it comes to addressing California’s water challenges, we need bold, forward-thinking action and real, workable solutions – none of which exists in the water bill offered by our Republican colleagues.
“What’s worse is that this divisive, reckless approach is déjà vu. We are deeply disappointed by the lack of progress represented in this bill, and fearful that its passage could have lasting, devastating effects to all communities across California. This bill clearly neglects to include the voices from the very stakeholders – Delta and Northern California communities, fishing industry, farms, tribes, and water districts– that this bill stands to harm.
“We are deeply disappointed by the lack of progress represented here, and believe that its passage would be disastrous for millions of Californians. Specifically, the legislation would radically change how the federal government releases water through the Central Valley Project by instructing federal officials to pump maximum amounts of water and overriding the flexibility they need to operate a complex water system.
“This bill makes it more difficult for federal and state agencies to make important decisions at a time when California faces its worst drought in a generation. It also undermines crucial environmental protection laws, harms vulnerable species populations, and continues to put different parts of the state at odds with each other when it comes to finding a path forward.
“As a delegation, we are committed to working with all stakeholders and will keep our focus on comprehensive, technologically-innovative, state-wide solutions that not only will help families, farmers, small businesses, and fish and wildlife endure this drought but will better prepare our communities for the next one.”
Senator Barbara Boxer:
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today released the following statement on the new House Republican water bill:
“It’s unfortunate that House Republicans – with much fanfare – are rolling out a bill that is the same-old, same-old and will only reignite the water wars.
“Communities across California are hurting because of this historic drought, so we need solutions that will benefit all our state’s water users. That’s why I urge Republicans to support my Water in the 21st Century bill, which will help our entire state by promoting water recycling, conservation, desalination and improved water storage and management.”
Congressman John Garamendi:
Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department, released the following statement on the introduction of H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, a bill from House Republicans that would significantly impact western water law:
“A great title does not make great legislation. This 176 page bill covers a multitude of issues important to Western water supply and environment.
“There is good language in the legislation that may be good policy, such as the use of science to determine the viability of aquatic species.
“There is policy in the legislation that appears to be bad, such as the pumping requirements in the Delta.
“Everyone familiar with Western water law knows that every word of law is backed up by court decisions. It is evident that this bill changes law and established legal precedent and could therefore have a profoundly negative effect on agriculture, the environment, and communities.
“As I have said before, the only way to achieve legislation that results in good water policy is to have every stakeholder at the same table at the same time. The authors of this bill did not do that. No representative of the Bay Delta region was given the opportunity to participate in the development of this legislation. Therefore, it is a safe bet that this lengthy and complex legislation will have negative effects on the Delta. As I have said many times, I am more than willing to work with anyone who wants to achieve a true bipartisan solution to California and Western water problems.
“As a starting point for a discussion, I recommend that we take a look at the Governor’s California Water Action Plan and my Water Plan for All of California. These proposals present similar solutions to California’s short-term and long-term water problems, creating as much as 5 million acre feet of new usable water without the devastation wrought by the Twin Tunnel plan.”
Doug Obegi at the NRDC:
Doug Obegi writes, “Despite the fact that California’s ongoing drought, not environmental protections, is the cause of low water supplies for farms, cities, and the environment, some in Congress are seeking to use the drought to weaken state and federal environmental protections for California’s rivers, the Bay-Delta estuary, and our native fisheries and the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on them. Today, Members of the House of Representatives will introduce legislation that would overturn protections for California salmon and other native species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), limit the public’s rights to be informed about the impacts of harmful new dams under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and preempt state laws that require restoration of the San Joaquin River.
Like zombies in a b-grade horror film, this new proposal is simply a repackaging of destructive legislative ideas that have repeatedly died, rejected by the State of California, the State’s senators, the majority of the State’s House delegation, sport and commercial fishermen, Tribes, conservation groups, Delta farmers, water districts, and other stakeholders and editorial boards across the state. … ”