House Democrats from California, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington – 27 in all – have signed on to a letter opposing HR 2898, saying the legislation preempts state laws, reduces management flexibility, eliminates protections for salmon and other endangered species, and rolls back environmental laws.
The letter was sent to Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as well as ranking member Senator Maria Cantwell; the Committee will be debating the bill this morning.
The letter points out that the Department of the Interior is in agreement that the bill is the wrong course of action as it would impede an effective and timely response to the continuing drought, and the State of California has stated its opposition to any legislation that would weaken federal environmental regulations and pre-empt state law such as this does. Furthermore, the bill pre-empts state rights, including overriding regulations Californians themselves devised to manage the state’s complex water supply system, they say.
The letter calls HR 2898 ‘yet another attempt to chip away at the Endangered Species Act,’ and points out that an expansion of federal management over the world’s most complicated water infrastructure would set a bad precedent for states across the country.
“Responsible solutions to the West’s short and long-term water shortages require input from all stakeholders without prioritizing sectors of the economy or geographic regions over others, and without further endangering at-risk species,” the letter states. “This historic drought demands an unprecedented compromise involving all affected parties. We remain committed to working on federal drought legislation that does not negatively impact the economies, farmers, communities, and environments of California, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, and other Western states.”
The letter is signed by Congress members Jerry McNerney, Jared Huffman, Peter DeFazio, Mark Desaulnier, Doris Matsui, John Garemendi, and 21 other House Democrats.